I heard a rumor once—a nasty, nasty rumor—that there are people out there who don’t like to shop.
I know. It’s awful. Simply terrible. Can you imagine? Not to like shopping! Not to like looking at the window displays, or pausing to admire what a mannequin is modeling, or savoring the weight of a full shopping bag hanging at the end of your hand. Honestly, I don’t know who would be circulating such wicked tales, but I can tell you, it’s not me.
It’s certainly not anyone you’ll be meeting in this story, either. No, the people in this story are power shoppers. Neapolitans Sonya Sawyer and Scott Boyd are people who know how to shop, know where to shop and—most importantly—love to shop. And together, we’re spending the day at a place that draws power shoppers like butterflies to the blossom: Waterside Shops.
Saks, and you shall receive
Oh, Saks Fifth Avenue. No power shopper deserving of the title could make a pilgrimage to Waterside and overlook you; there is a reason I refer to Saks as “The Mothership,” after all. But it’s still early, and Saks is still slumbering, so I make my way to Waterside’s shady courtyard area, where I have a good view of what gives Waterside its name—the sparkling, 55,000-gallon water feature and its bubbling, musical fountains—and await the arrival of Sonya and Scott.
I’m not alone. Even at this hour, Waterside is peppered with people. There are spandex-clad cyclists who’ve stopped to grab a quick coffee at Starbucks, sales associates scrolling through their social media feeds while waiting for work to start, and security guards taking a slow, easygoing pass through Waterside before it opens. The sky is a brilliant blue, without a cloud to be seen, and a light breeze lifts the scent of jasmine through the air. It’s so lovely that it almost seems a shame to be heading indoors.
But we are power shoppers, and duty calls.
Ever fashionable, Sonya arrives in a pair of Christian Louboutin espadrilles and a cobalt-colored, off-the-shoulder Milly dress. We take a stroll through the store, looking for glamorous goodies to consider for our closets, quickly discovering that we share some similar tastes—I grab a white, one-shouldered Nero cocktail dress for myself, and Sonya decides it’s try-on-worthy, too. I’m dazzled by her pick of a Stella McCartney Falabella tiny crystal shimmer handbag, as well as a Judith Leiber wildcat crystal box evening bag.
We both agree that she would look gorgeous in a backless Pucci maxidress, and it goes on the ever-increasing dressing room pile, a stack that’s already chock-full of ruffles, florals and stripes—just a few of the latest and hottest trends for the coming season.
There’s no disputing that Sonya is one of the most photographed and fashionable women in Southwest Florida, with a style that’s quickly approaching iconic, especially when it comes to galas. Feathers and sequins, anything spectacular and memorable—that’s Sonya’s soiree signature. But as a mom of two, philanthropist and the chief financial officer of Home-Tech, she favors functional over fancy for her day-to-day wear, choosing comfortable clothes that reflect current trends and classic accessories from such personal favorites as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Stuart Weitzman.
“I like to change it up,” Sonya says. “I don’t have one style and stick to it forever.”
We pop into one of the six rooms in the Saks Fifth Avenue Club to give Sonya a chance to change into what she’s picked. There, we find Saks has tucked away a few hand-selected items for us to consider—including an Edie Parker Lara Backlit acrylic clutch that I’m pretty sure is destined to come home with me.
Meanwhile, Scott texts me to say he’s outside menswear shop John Craig Clothiers, and I head out to meet him.
The former vice president of sales and marketing of Harsco Corporation is dapper as always—he jokes that he has more clothing in his closet than his wife, Pam—and as we make our way back to Saks, we chat about the day’s shopping plans. We’ll visit Scott’s beloved John Craig later, and we’re also planning a stop by that purveyor of all things Italian and irresistible, Salvatore Ferragamo. Scott’s a fan of their classic Parigi driving moccasin, and I’ve already been telling Sonya about a splashy sneaker called the Giolly that I already own and I think she would like, too.
But back in the dressing room at Saks, Sonya’s already surrounded by a sea of shoes. High heels are her particular kryptonite, and she’s rounded up several pairs, including an elegant pair of navy Alexandre Birman sandals with a lace-up silk ribbon and a suede block heel, as well as a chunky, YSL platform peep toe with bold metallic stripes of silver, red and hot pink that looks like it danced right out of Saturday Night Fever.
Making decisions is hard, even for power shoppers.
But one thing is certain: If you can’t find it at Saks, there’s a good chance it might not exist. That’s why it’s always at the top of every power shopper’s to-do list.
“I have my staples that I always go to,” Sonya says. “No. 1 would be Saks.”
Accessories make the shopper
After Saks, we wander out toward Waterside’s central corridor. At Starbucks, we grab a little refreshment of the caffeinated kind, and stop to gaze at what’s glittering behind the glass at Van Cleef & Arpels. Sonya stops to try on a glittering Frivole necklace and matching earrings, the mirrored 18-karat gold petals and delicate diamonds luminous in the sunshine—a perfect set for everyday.
Over at Ferragamo, power shopper Scott has gotten down to the task of selecting his newest and latest pair of Parigis. The fit of the shoe is something that simply has to be experienced to be believed, he explains. And, of course, they can be custom-made to order, in a variety of luxurious colors and skins, making your shoes entirely unique to you.
“Oh, I love them,” Scott says of the Parigi. “They mold to your foot.”
While we await Sonya, I seize the moment to seize a new handbag, finally deciding on an Aileen crossbody. Outside, it’s a pale, pretty shade of bisque, while inside, it’s a deep, simmering scarlet. I love being surprised, and it’s this color combo—the cool neutral concealing the shocking red—that sells me on the bag as much as its classic style.
Sonya sweeps into Ferragamo, and she soon gravitates toward the Giolly, as I was thinking she might. These kicks are a show-stopper—I originally bought them to wear to a bachelorette party in Las Vegas, wanting something flashy enough for Sin City but kinder to my feet than a pair of stilettos—and I get compliments every time I slip them on. Sonya’s struck by the Swarovski-encrusted sneakers, too, and decides she has to have a pair. Like me, she’s discovering they’re perfect for something as glitzy as a trip to Vegas—or for glamming up something as ordinary as a run to the grocery store.
“I would wear them everywhere,” she says, turning them side-to-side so the crystals catch the light.
With their shoe purchases in hand, Sonya and Scott consider where to go next—all of Waterside is waiting, after all. And that’s quite a bit of shopping, even for power shoppers: There are 280,000 square feet of retail space in the center, including about 60 upscale stores and a mouthwatering collection of restaurants. The newest of those is True Food Kitchen, a chic eatery with a culinary approach that reflects the principles of famed health guru and co-founder Andrew Weil.
Suddenly, our group is realizing power shopping is hard work. That’s when our power shoppers decide to refuel, and that True Food Kitchen sounds like an excellent addition to our itinerary. At Waterside’s latest addition, we are graciously whisked to a table outdoors, one tucked beneath a merry yellow awning. Sonya and Scott take a moment to peruse the True Food Kitchen menu, poring over such nourishing delicacies as edamame dumplings, kale guacamole and the farmers market crudité, an enormous presentation of chilled raw veggies and delicious dips.
Over sips of prosecco, our power shoppers discuss their day, their purchases and their shared fondness for ballroom dancing. The Chioggia beet bruschetta and shitake lettuce cups prove to be a hit, with Scott admitting out loud that he didn’t even realize he was eating beets.
We’ll call that a True Food True Confession, direct from a power shopper.
Other passions and pursuits
Waterside is quite a different creature than when it opened in 1992. Longtime power shoppers will recall the original incarnation of the center, when it was smaller and had an earthier, more natural vibe; newer power shoppers will recall only the shimmering, glimmering Waterside of today, with its mosaic tile waterway and open, airy promenades.
The shopping has changed, too: Waterside has always been posh, but its renovation put Waterside on the luxury-shopping map. Saks expanded and Nordstrom moved in, as did a bevy of other desirable brands, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. (Recent additions include Johnny Was, Vineyard Vines and Free People.) The interior overhaul was completed in 2006; finishing touches like the parking garage opened in 2008. At long last, a serious power shopper could say “bah!” to Bal Harbour; we finally had a mall to rival whatever Miami could offer, right here in our own backyard.
But until this past December, Waterside never had a Tesla dealership.
So that’s where we’re headed next. Located next to Brio Tuscan Grille, the Tesla dealership is a sleek showroom of about 3,500 square feet, complete with interactive information screens—and, of course, two Teslas. The Tesla Model S sedan is the company’s flagship, while the Model X Crossover SUV is newer, and arguably more eye-popping, thanks to its two swooping “falcon wing” doors that allow quick access to the second- and third-row seats.
Scott gravitates toward the deep blue Model X, taking a spot in the bright white leather driver’s seat and putting his hands on the wheel. The Model X travels from 0 to 60 mph as quickly as 2.9 seconds. Whew. That could seriously speed up our power shopping. And it seats up to seven comfortably—plenty of room for our purchases.
But the Tesla will have to wait for another day: We still have one more stop on our power shopping itinerary.
John Craig Clothiers has eight locations in Florida; Waterside is its latest store to open, and its third in Naples. Color is everything at John Craig—if you like black, go elsewhere—and it’s Scott’s favorite shop, thanks in part to its helpful staff and vast selection of casual, Florida-forward styles and brands. Scott has his own particular power shopper methods of picking out what he likes, he explains.
“I’m a big fabric person,” he says. “I like to touch and feel all the fabrics.”
Among his first selections is a navy and green sport coat by Jack Victor with a complementary blue pocket square, and assistant manager Rick Gur lends a hand in styling the look. Scott also adds a bow tie to bring it all together, and later spends some time perusing a table of colorful and lightweight Peter Millar sweaters, pieces that are ideal for our Southwest Florida climate.
Outside John Craig, the sunshine is starting to dim, with the afternoon stretching out into early evening. We all agree it has been a successful day, and now all that remains is to head home, make room in our closets for our purchases, and perhaps set a date for our next Waterside adventure.
But that’s a power shopper story for another time.