Rodeo Drive is one of most famous shopping districts in the world, a place where the well-heeled can buy $4,000 Gucci jackets or the notoriously hard-to-get Hermes Birkin handbag, which retails for up to $34,000.

Here's one thing it's not: one of the priciest places to do business.

Annual retail rents on the famed Beverly Hills street don't crack the top 10 worldwide, according to a recent report by brokerage Cushman & Wakefeld. In fact, they place just 20th, at $500 per square foot; that's well below New York's Fifth Avenue, the world rent leader at $1,700 per square foot.

And while Rodeo Drive's rents are the highest in the United States outside New York's three priciest streets, they are below the top 10 locations in Europe including the Champs Elysees in Paris.

So how can that be?

"Los Angeles rents are just cheaper," said Anita Zusman Eddy, vice president of economic development for the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Indeed, the chamber has made the relatively inexpensive rents a sales point on its trips to New York to woo new business. "Rodeo Drive happens to be a tremendous value for the money. New York CEOs know that," she said.

Something must be going right. Already this year, 20 stores or restaurants have either opened or announced they are coming to Rodeo. And despite the severe recession, the street has only seven vacancies amid its 100-plus storefronts, not many more than the normal retail flux.

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