ST. PETERSBURG — Alexis Redman, 10, of St. Petersburg is fascinated with llamas. Inside the newly opened Five Below store in Tyrone Square Mall — which sells niche products especially for tweens — she found what she was on the hunt for.
"It’s amazing," she said, proudly displaying her soon-to-be-purchased llama pool floatie, squishie toy and keychain.
She was shopping with her mom, Holly Redman, and three siblings at the opening event for the fast-growing Philadelphia-based discount chain, which, as its name suggests, sells products for $5 and under. The family had shopped at Five Below online, but this was their first time in a physical store.
The 6665 22nd Ave N location in St. Petersburg is the ninth Five Below to open in the Tampa Bay area since the chain entered the market three years ago. Other area locations include Clearwater, Largo, Bradenton, North Seminole, Oldsmar, Tampa, Plant City and Brooksville.
And the chain isn’t slowing down. Tyrone Square marks the sixth Five Below to open in Florida so far in 2018, with 13 more openings planned this year.
"We love the Sunshine State," said Zach Minteer, Five Below’s vice president of real estate. "We’re a summer destination store, which works well for Florida."
Minteer said the St. Petersburg location is ideal because of the densely trafficked mall. "St. Petersburg has been a big target for us in Florida," he said. "This redevelopment of Tyrone Square Mall provided that perfect opportunity."
Fidget spinners and fake slime are some of the company’s most popular products sold at its more than 650 stores nationwide. But while it markets to mostly tweens and teenagers, adults aren’t excluded from the customers that shop for home decor, tech and clothing products.
Francine Yencha, 44, was jumping up and down in line behind about 25 other customers who would be the first to walk through the store’s doors. When it opened a little after 9 a.m., the St. Petersburg native grabbed a shopping cart and made her way quickly through the store.
"Don’t you love the stuff in here?" said Yencha, complimenting other customers on the items in their baskets. "Where’d you find that?"
Another customer at the opening, Wes Hamm of Seminole, was shopping with his wife, Katie, and two daughters.
"It’s like a Dollar Store on steroids," he said.
The publicly traded company opened its first location in 2002 in Pennsylvania. Since then, some market analysts claim, the company is outperforming Amazon, with lower prices and a strategically targeted audience.
Five Below, Inc.’s stock surged 41 percent last week to an all-time high of $102.87 a share after posting a surprisingly strong first quarter report. Sales jumped 27 percent from the year-ago quarter to $296.3 million and net income increased by almost 160 percent to $21.8 million, or 39 cents per share.
Contact Hannah Denham at [email protected]abay.com. Follow @hannah_denham1.