Posted Oct. 25, 2012
By BRITTANY WEINER
SOUTH MIAMI, Fla. — Rompe-muellas. Johanna Casas spent her day thinking of that word. What did it mean? Why were people asking her if they carried it at the store she worked at?
“Rompe-muellas” is the Spanish word for jawbreakers, the American candy that consumers have been going crazy over for years, and just one of the types of candy that foreign customers shop for at Sugar Heaven in Sunset Place.
Travelers come from all over to frequent The Shops at Sunset Place. Sugar Heaven and all the other retail stores draw a large crowd of, not just locals, but masses of European and Latin American tourists.
Sunset Place is not your typical shopping mall. It is an open-air center with entertainment, food and tons of retail stores, located just off U.S. 1, south of downtown Miami.
A candy store that opened in December of last year, Sugar Heaven has been flourishing as they offer a wide assortment of candy and candy-related items such as apparel, games and toys. Many tourists frequent the candy store to buy items not offered in their native countries and bring them back for their families.
“We see a lot of Europeans, and people from Chile and Argentina,” said Jesse Steward, one of the supervisors at the store. “They come in and buy huge things for their families, sometimes spending up to $500.”
Besides jawbreakers, another type of candy that people come to the store for specifically is Willy Wonka candy, a staple in the U.S.
“Things that we normally buy in convenience stores, consumers come here for,” Casas said. “We wouldn’t think twice about popping into a CVS to buy a Wonka bar, but the foreign consumers don’t have these brands back at home.”
Another part of Sunset that attracts a large amount of people is Splitsville, a bowling alley located on the upper level of the plaza. This bowling alley is not your average alley, but a boutique alley that turns into nightclub after 8 p.m., and only allows customers who are 21 and over to enter.
Splitsville has been in Sunset Place since 2008, and is one of the places that a traveler should absolutely go to. Priding themselves on their service, Splitsville is known for their charismatic staff, amazing happy hours and unbelievable food.
Monday through Friday, Splitsville has a happy hour which offers $3 wine, cocktails, Miller Lite draft, selected beers, and, above all, their cheese burger sliders.
Gelina Lemus, a Miami native comes just for the happy hour.
“The sliders are so juicy, and pretty big,” Lemus said. “And their happy hour starts early!”
Another favorite on the menu is sushi. On Thursday it is $5 for any roll.
“People like to come to us because you get everything all in one,” said Stacy Maderal, the events coordinator. “And they love the sushi!”
Some waiters are also bowlers on the side and have their own ball. They have even been known to bowl with the people they are serving.
“It’s different than you’re normal restaurant,” Maderal said. “Where else can your waiter give you tips on bowling?”
One of the best things about Sunset Place is its state-of-the-art IMAX theatre, located right next to the alley. Many travelers come to shop during the day, then go bowling and to a movie at night. On weekends, Splitsville is open until 2 a.m. so it makes this combination possible.
Fior Guerrero, a Miami native always brings her visitors to Sunset Place because of this convenience that it offers for both shopping and entertainment. Guerrero and her friend were shopping, and planned on returning for the entertainment at night.
“It’s a nice place, they can find different things they can do,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero’s visitors, Francesca Hernandez and Jose Rivera were busy running from store to store. One store in particular that the two loved was American Eagle Outfitters, a retailer that is not present in their country, the Dominican Republic. They were pleasantly surprised with the service of the store.
“The quality of the clothes is so much better, and the staff is so helpful,” Rivera said. “The way they treat you in their store makes you feel like you are receiving special treatment.”
Hernandez also enjoyed shopping at the rest of the stores, and picked up things from Aeropostale and Hollister. She especially liked the mall because the stores were extremely close together, making it easy to shop.
“It was much different than the other malls we went to in the area,” Hernandez said. “Much easier and less overwhelming. I also like that it’s outside so you get some fresh air.”
Other stores found in Sunset Place are the Gap/Gap Kids, Armani Exchange, Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitters, among other popular American brands. The complex also has other entertainment options such as GameTime, an arcade on the second floor; Color Me Mine, a pottery-painting store; and a brand new wing spot Buffalo Wild Wings.
IF YOU GO
- If you go to Splitsville, it is important to reserve lanes, as there could be a very long wait on weekends. Maderal suggests reserving at least one week to two days prior. The peak hours are also 8:30-9:30 p.m., so if you want to get your bowling on before or after, it may help you avoid a wait.
- Monday through Thursday the alley is open until midnight, and Friday and Saturday it is open until 2 a.m. If you plan on drinking, the alley switches from a more relaxed family friendly environment during the day to a club scene at 8 p.m., where it also becomes 21 and over to enter.
- If your pockets are tight, on Mondays it costs 99 cents to bowl, and on Tuesday it is $2 games and $2 shoe-rentals. Normally, it is $3.50 per person per game.
- Parking in Sunset can also be an issue. There are meter spots on the street, but if you plan on spending the day there it may be beneficial to park in the garage. On weekdays after 6 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday the garage has a flat rate of $6. Other than that, customers must pay by the hour; up to one hour is $2, with the most being 6-24 hours at $8.
- Sunset also offers complimentary wheelchairs for customers, which are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. One must show a valid driver’s license or ID, and they are given out at the security office.
- Sunset Place is open from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and is open from 11 a.m. -11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, it is open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- The Shops at Sunset Place is located at 5701 Sunset Dr., South Miami, Fla. 33143.