BRANDON — The Plato's Closet in Brandon now ranks as the Minneapolis-based consignment franchise's largest shop in Florida.
Local owners completed a 3,200-square-foot expansion a few doors down from its home in the Brandon Centre South shopping center at the corner of Providence and Lumsden roads. It reopened March 6 in a 7,400-square-foot store that encompasses four units, beginning at 1957 W Lumsden Road.
Rene Tirado and Jim and Connie Weaver, who together own five of the 10 Tampa Bay area Plato's Closet stores, knew the benefits of adding space, having moved two other Tampa outlets and expanded the Lakeland location.
Since the Brandon business will celebrate 10 years of business in May, they decided to give the store a facelift.
"Our sales have always been very strong here but we were maxed out with floor space," Tirado said. "With the much larger aisle and sales floor, we have been able to more than double our inventory, giving our customers more to chose from."
Plato's, known for offering up to 70 percent off gently used clothes up to size 15/16 and paying cash to consigners, increased its fitting rooms to 11 and its checkout stations to six.
The expansion has been in the works for more than a year and includes a newly constructed façade, which will house the signature neon sign. Tirado said he recently increased staff by 30 percent but still wants to hire an additional four to six workers to keep up with demand.
"We knew from our other expansions that we could really take this store to the next level," Tirado said. "It will benefit everyone financially in the future."
Plato's Closet, which has more than 300 locations nationwide, is a Winmark Corp. brand that also owns Once Upon A Child and Play It Again Sports among others.
The expanded Brandon location now ranks among the largest in the nation. Tirado and the Weavers began their franchising in 1994 with Play it Again Sports, but sold their three locations in 2006. They also own a pair of Hand and Stone Massage and facial spa locations.
Tirado said they still have another month's worth of improvements to complete, but they are once again open for business. Check them out at facebook.com/platosclosetbrandon.
Romano's restaurant completes expansion
Romano's, which has been on Brandon diners' radar since 1977 when it comes to authentic Greek and classic Italian cuisine, has finalized its expansion next door in the space formerly occupied by Moreno's Bakery.
Loyal patrons wanted more seating in the quaint restaurant at 901 W Brandon Blvd., and now it features an expansive new dining room and also a bar area.
The small Greek salad remains a popular option for $6.25 and improves when you add the gyro meat for an extra $2.50. Along with the larger floor space comes new Sunday hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and new jobs for experienced cooks, servers, cashiers, hostesses, bussers and kitchen prep staff. Call (813) 653-9477.
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