Our Deal Divas were all atwitter at the news that Zara had finally opened at International Plaza. [For the shopping neophytes among us, see below.] One even posed the question "Has Tampa arrived?"
Well, yes and no would be the answer. The Divas, along with a little help from our retail reporter, can count several shopping excursions that make us seem big-city. But there are still those final two that have them pining. See if you agree.
1. Zara: Vogue-worthy style at decidedly less snobby prices has landed. Thank the shopping gods for delivering!
2. Whole Foods: The sign is up on Dale Mabry Highway, replacing the store formerly known as Wild Oats. We are elated, but the pride is bittersweet. If it's taken this long to get Whole Foods, we have no hope of Dean & DeLuca. And we still yearn for Trader Joe's.
3. Ikea/Crate & Barrel: In two years, we will look back and wonder how anyone decorated before the arrival of these titans of chic and affordable home furnishings. Let the countdown begin ... Ikea, summer 2009. Crate & Barrel, 2009. And let's begin a campaign for the Container Store and West Elm.
4. Saks Fifth Avenue: In the dark days before Saks, women had to go as far as Atlanta to find anything more exciting than Talbots. Repress the memory. Now we have full-line Chanel boutiques in Saks and Neiman Marcus. An embarrassment of riches!
5. Tiffany & Co.: How did anyone say "I love you" before the little blue box?
6. Anthropologie: Girly, flirty, hippy, happy. So few of us can look like we roll out of bed with good taste, which is why we have shelled out big bucks for their little tee's ever since this gem opened in Tampa's Hyde Park Village. And while we're counting blessings, here's to Urban Outfitters, an edgier cousin in Ybor.
7. Lest we think we're arrived and get a swelled head, let's pay homage to stores that Tampa Bay has landed and lost: FAO Schwarz, St. John Knits and Lladro among others.
Still waiting, after all these years …
8. H&M: Why, why are we cursed? In real cities, H&M is the staple of cheap style on a budget. We pine away and dream of taking trips to New York.
9. Bloomingdale's and Barneys: We adore our Nordstrom, Dillard's and Macy's, but the department store lineup remains sadly incomplete. Tampa is not asking for the moon. Just give us Bloomie's and Barneys CO-OP.
The Deal Divas prowl the malls, boutiques and mega-stores of Tampa Bay, scoping out deals and steals. But they'll also tell you what they thought of Hillary's pantsuit or Michelle's dress. Find them at blogs.tampabay.com/deals.