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Big crowd gets skinny on new Spanx store at International Plaza

Spanx founder and Clearwater native Sara Blakely welcomes shoppers to the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Spanx store at International Plaza in Tampa on Friday.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Spanx founder and Clearwater native Sara Blakely welcomes shoppers to the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Spanx store at International Plaza in Tampa on Friday.

TAMPA — More than 100 people squeezed into the new Spanx store at International Plaza on Friday.

Spanx founder and Clearwater native Sara Blakely, the world's youngest self-made billionaire, thanked the crowd for its support.

"This is such a full-circle, pinch-me moment," said Blakely, whose husband, son, mother and grandmother attended the "hosiery cutting."

Even Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, one of the few men in the crowd, took part in the festivities, saying as a father of two daughters he was thrilled to celebrate a female entrepreneur.

"We're so happy to welcome back a hometown hero. She's an American success story, and she's ours."

Blakely, 43, started her shapewear business 14 years ago. She now lives in Atlanta.

Fans of the slimming undergarments came to see her in person and get a free pair of Spanx pantyhose.

"She's phenomenal," said Vanessa Stamper of Tampa. "To think she made a success of herself just by making something that tightens your tummy. It shows that anyone can be a billionaire if you have the right idea."

Tampa's Spanx store is the fourth mall store nationwide. Other retail outlets are at the airports in Atlanta and Detroit.

Big crowd gets skinny on new Spanx store at International Plaza 04/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2014 8:11pm]

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