In The Trails

Pamela Olson, Pepper's Boutique manager, counts on walk-in customers at the shop in The Trails shopping center in Ormond Beach.

When Sheila Beaulieu earned all A’s on her fourth-grade report card she was rewarded by her mother with a fancy tea at the Trails Shopping Center in Ormond Beach.

In high school she met girlfriends at the Trails Shopping Center after a big dance for pictures at the water fountain and waterfalls feature.

“I was a customer for a very long time,” said Ms. Beaulieu, who is now the onsight manager of the Trails.

The Trails Shopping Center at 298 S. Nova Road has weathered ups and downs since opening in 1978. It is now undergoing a renaissance with a refreshed look, busy parking lot, shoppers, diners and new businesses filling previously vacant storefronts.

This revival began in 2018 with the purchase of the Mediterranean-themed, open-air shopping complex by ShopOne REIT.

ShopOne negotiated a renewal with the grocery store anchor, Publix, that included the store’s renovation and expansion into the adjacent former CVS location. CVS moved to the corner of Granada Boulevard and Nova Road.

Publix reportedly put nearly $8 million into renewal and expansion of its grocery store, while ShopOne anted up with about $3 million to improve the parking lot, upgrade facades, renovate the water fountain waterfalls feature, upgrade lighting, replace some roofs and spruce up landscaping.

Construction partially blocked the Trails parking lot, limiting access. Although shops and restaurants were open during the work, to Trails maintenance employee Greg Mankins the businesses “were just waiting for Publix to reopen.”

ShopOne’s leasing staff remained active during the slowdown, signing up businesses to fill vacancies.

“Since that time the leasing team from ShopOne has been able to negotiate new leases in the shopping center,” Ms. Beaulieu said.

Publix reopened in 2020. On a recent weekday, the parking lot was accessible and busy. Shoppers and diners were active.

“It’s exciting for me to see the way it is, because there were definitely some sad times,” Ms. Beaulieu said.

Eleven new businesses have either opened or are planning to open, for a total of 36 businesses in the Trails Shopping Center.

“I have only three vacancies,” Ms. Beaulieu said. That’s the lowest number of vacancies she can recall in her seven years working at the Trails. She credits the improvements to Publix and the Trails Shopping Center with giving business owners confidence to move in.

A variety of offerings also helps make the Trails Shopping Center an attractive destination.

“The tenant mix has really been a focus for ShopOne,” Ms. Beaulieu said. “To have a tenant mix of service, experience and product.”

Shoppers can get their haircut, notice there’s a place to get their dog groomed, enjoy a variety of eateries from Dairy Queen to fine dining at Aria Cucina Italiana, drop off clothes at Sunshine Cleaners, exercise at Anytime Fitness, shop a boutique and finish with a glass at Wine Not?

“There’s something for a Sweet 16 or for your granddaughter,” Ms. Beaulieu said about the boutiques.

Pamela Olson, manager of Pepper’s Boutique, is counting on attracting patrons from other businesses..

Pepper’s opened as a temporary boutique in March and signed a lease to stay in December.

“It’s just a one-stop shop here,” Ms. Olson said. “We have three boutiques, every restaurant is different, Publix. Everything you want is here.”

She expressed enthusiasm about the variety of businesses as she pointed to a display of her shop’s clothing by the door.

“They help my business because women see me,” Ms. Olson said. “I’m right next to them and I put clothes out for display.”

Pepper’s Boutique is owned by Pepper Berkowitz, a long-time sales representative who decided to open her own boutiques. There’s a location in New Smyrna Beach and Charlevoix, Mich. Offerings include clothes, accessories and shoes from Italy, Germany, Turkey, China, Canada and the United States.

“I told her (Ms. Berkowitz) if we go in here, we’ll be very successful and we are successful,” Ms. Olson said. “I suggested it to Pepper because I’ve lived here in Ormond Beach for 16 years. I remember coming to the Trails 20, 25 years ago and how exciting the Trails was. I always shopped here because I have grandchildren here.”

Pepper’s is one of 11 businesses to either open or begin plans to start in the Trails Shopping Center after the start of renovations and upgrades.

Those businesses are Burntwood Tavern; Delta Life Fitness for women; SoNapa Grille; Woof Gang Bakery, dog grooming and treats; Keke’s Breakfast Cafe; Huey Magoo’s, chicken tenders; Massage Envy; Great Clips; Enchanted Medical Aesthetics; Pepper’s Boutique and Fuzion indoor playground.

Fuzion owner Ashley Rodriguez has a business plan relying on complementing other businesses by offering incentives for parents to drop off their children at the indoor playground she is developing under the clock tower at the Trails Shopping Center.

“There’s really nothing here in Ormond Beach with an indoor playground concept,” said Ms. Rodriguez, a U.S. Army veteran and Jacksonville native, who moved here a year ago from Georgia.

Usually indoor playgrounds target the 10 and under or 12 and under ages. Fuzion will welcome 15 and under.

“The reason we are including an older demographic is we are including an escape room,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “Essentially it’s like a living puzzle. You go into a room and you’re trying to figure out how to leave the room.”

Children can play inside on climbing structures and rock walls while parents shop, or adults can stay and enjoy watching at a free coffee bar.

Her promotional ideas include a Date Night for couples to drop off children while they shop or get a meal.

Ms. Rodriguez said she could have opened in a stand-alone location, but she wanted to be where there was a built-in audience. In looking for a location she saw how the reopening of Publix brought renewed life to the Trails Shopping Center.

“There is always traffic there,” she said. “There’s always people there. We really wanted to be a part of that.”

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