For the frequent flyer, this is retail paradise. The Paradies Shops operates more than 500 shops in airports, hotels, and aquariums throughout the US and Canada. It serves more than a half billion passengers annually, with retail sites that include bookstores, gift shops, jewelry stores, ladies accessory shops, newsstands, sunglass stores, and western stores, among others. Paradies Shops is also the exclusive licensee of Brooks Brothers, CNBC, PGA Tour, and the New York Times. The firm operates several hotel properties and the retail program for the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The company was founded by the Paradies family in 1960. In mid-2010 it sold a majority stake to Freeman Spogli & Co.
Following the sale to the private equity firm, the Paradies family still holds a significant stake in the airport retailer and CEO Gregg Paradies continues to run the business.
Airport retail has experienced rapid growth in recent years as terminals become more akin to shopping malls with a captive audience. Flight delays and more stringent security requirements have increased waiting times for passengers, many of whom turn to shopping for relief from the boredom. The Paradise Shops tailors its merchandise to regional tastes, selling sports-related merchandise at its ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Shops in the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, or Texas-themed goods and apparel at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, for example.