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'Sidewalk' sales lure shoppers to Tampa International Airport

Let's try some oxymorons: jumbo shrimp, reasonable legal fees, airport bargains.

Now take the last one off your list, at least until Saturday night. Looking to juice up business for struggling retailers and restaurants, Tampa International Airport put on a two-day sidewalk sale starting Friday morning.

Stores set up tables loaded with merchandise outside their storefronts — usually a major lease violation — and slashed their regular prices.

"We're going to wow all our family and friends," said Midge James of St. Pete Beach, who picked up a set of six Tommy Bahama frosted tumblers for $25, half off, at Port of Call. She and her husband, Raymond, drove over after seeing a television news story on the sale.

Passenger traffic at Tampa International is down about 10 percent from last year. Like everywhere else, airport shoppers are spending less and expecting discounts. In May, airport merchandise sales were off 2.6 percent, and food and beverage sales down 6.3 percent.

"Everyone's more price-sensitive," said Brad Wimmer, general manager of Ron Jon Surf Shop and Mindworks, a toy and games retailer."

Lots of airport employees were snapping up deals Friday. Electronics store InMotion offered the iDream, a pillow with built-in speakers, for $12.99, down from $17.99. Sunglass International marked Nike shades 50 percent off. Discounted $9.99 Disney T-shirts at Mindworks were $7.50.

Carrabba's offered free samples of chicken marsala and gelato. For each $10 shoppers spent, they received a ticket for an hourly prize raffle.

The sidewalk sale will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. One hour of free parking is available at the short-term and long-term garages.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

'Sidewalk' sales lure shoppers to Tampa International Airport 08/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 12:15am]
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