Back-to-school shoppers in northwest Hillsborough can look forward to more options this summer, just before the doors open for class.
New retailers at Westfield Citrus Park mall include a handful that cater to children's tastes in clothing, as well as a new yogurt shop for their taste buds.
Two children's stores and a young adult chain are on the list.
Crazy 8, part of the Gymboree Corp., opened in the mall in May. The children's clothing store offers sizes 0 to 14. Since opening its first store in 2007, the Crazy 8 chain has grown to more than 220 stores nationwide, including stores at the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel and Westfield Brandon.
"It's an affordable clothing line," said Taylor Clifton, marketing director for Citrus Park mall, "but with the same quality and type of look as Gymboree." According to the store's website, shoppers can get shorts and T-shirts for under $10 and jeans and uniform shorts and pants for under $20.
Just in time for the sales tax holiday weekend, P.S. from Aéropostale is slated to open Aug. 3 and is the first of the growing chain to open in the Tampa Bay area.
While Aéropostale specializes in casual clothing for teens ages 14 to 17, the popular clothing retailer now offers the same trendy styles for the "tween" set with its new chain.
Started in 2009 in New York, P.S. from Aéropostale offers casual apparel and accessories for kids 7 to 12 at value prices, from their classic tees and hoodies to Hello Kitty accessories.
The two new stores are among six specialty children's retailers — including Children's Place, Gymboree, Justice and Gap Kids & Baby — that fit the mall's family-oriented marketplace.
"Most of our demographic has young children at home," said Clifton. "You're not going to find a Louis Vuitton (store) at this mall. That just doesn't resonate with our shoppers. We have a different customer that craves value."
Similar to XXI Forever (also called Forever 21) at International Plaza, Citrus Park's version of affordable young adult fashion is the new rue21, which opened July 5 and offers apparel and accessories for girls and guys from teens to adults.
Offering more affordable clothing lines and catering to families seems to be working for the mall, which is nearly at capacity with more than 150 retailers, said Clifton.
"We have two play spaces, which is unusual for most malls, and a family lounge with nursing stations and a flat screen TV... where families can get quiet time and recharge," she said.
The play space in the Dillard's wing will soon undergo a renovation and expansion, increasing from about 750 square feet to more than 1,100 square feet. The new space will feature aquatic-themed climbing structures and interactive games geared toward preschool and young elementary-age kids. Renovations will begin in October and shouldn't take longer than a week, said Clifton.
Longtime tenants the Limited, a women's career-oriented fashion retailer, and its casual counterpart Express are also getting facelifts. The Limited is in a temporary location while it renovates a new space in the Macy's wing. The new storefront is expected to be completed later this year.
Express and Express Men are consolidating, becoming just Express. The store remains open during its expansion, which will be finished in mid August.
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For kids and kids-at-heart, the mall has gotten on the frozen yogurt bandwagon with the opening of Sweet Frog in the Macy's wing in June. The self-service yogurt shop sells a variety of flavors and toppings and has seating in and out of the store.
The Virginia yogurt chain is among the new offerings at the mall that are first to the Tampa area.
BannaStrow's Crepes & Coffee opened in May in the food court, the seventh location for the new Miami-area franchise. The company offers a variety of quick-service crepes, from meat and cheese to fruit and chocolate. It also serves specialty coffees and smoothies.
"It's the first store of its kind in Tampa. Everything's made fresh in front of you," Clifton said.
The infamous Grimaldi's pizza chain that originated in Brooklyn, New York, makes its debut in Hillsborough at the mall this fall.
"We're excited to be able to bring in stores that our customers have been asking for, as well as bringing in names that are new to the area, like Grimaldi's," Clifton said.
Other recent mall openings include: AT&T, the national wireless network that opened in May; Salon Sassin, a salon and hair care retail store that opened in March; and Sew Good, opened in June, offering on-site same-day alterations and tailoring services.
Stores soon to come to the mall include a Subway sandwich shop opening next month in the food court and Take 5 & Relax, a massage center that is also opening in August. Windsor Fashions, offering lifestyle and career fashions for juniors and women and specializing in special occasion dresses, is slated to open in coming months.
Elizabeth Miller can be reached at email@example.com.