SARASOTA – Berenise Ahumada wanted to get foot traffic.
The owner of leather goods store Eleganza, Ahumada opened a storefront January in downtown Sarasota. She has operated a second store at Tampa’s International Mall for 14 years. By moving downtown, she thought customers would be more likely to stumble upon her store.
Ahumada is part of a trend of businesses that have opened downtown in the past eight months, growth that has encouraged new and longtime downtown business owners.
When the $315 million Mall at the University Town Center opened in October, many owners feared it would draw customers away from downtown. But the worst of their fears were never realized. In the past year, a running store, a jewelry chain, a clothing boutique and a handmade leather goods store all opened on Main Street despite the looming shadow of the UTC.