PALMA CEIA — Fifi Queen's style sensibility took root in rural North Carolina, where she didn't wear store-bought clothes until she was 13.
"My great-grandmother made my dresses from flour and feed sacks," said the chic owner of Fifi's Fine Resale Apparel, which opened at the end of July in the Carriage Trade Shopping Plaza, in the former Girl Trends space.
Consigning excess clothing and using the money for new purchases makes so much sense, said Queen, whose store sells new and gently-worn women's fashions, jewelry, shoes and handbags. High-end designer items (Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, St. John, Burberry and such) are kept indefinitely and sales are split 50-50 with the consignor.
Department store labels and such brands as Chico's, Talbots and Ann Taylor are split 40-60, with FiFi's keeping the larger share. After 30 days on the rack, these fashions are reduced half price. Unsold merchandise is donated to charity; donors gets the tax deduction.
"There is no limit to what can be brought in — shirts, dresses, jeans, swimsuits," Queen said. "We get hundreds of items a day. And no appointment necessary."
Coming soon: men's fashions, home decor and artwork.
A singer, composer and pianist, Queen's first career — entertaining — brought her to the bay area in the '70s when she performed with her sister as FiFi Queen Unlimited.
Now Queen owns seven of 23 Fifi's resale stores in Florida and North Carolina. "The others are franchises," said Queen, who lives in Apollo Beach. "We expect to open 100 more, from Oregon to Maine, in the next five years."
Fifi's Fine Resale Apparel, 1732 S Dale Mabry Highway; is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday through Saturday; visit fifisconsignment.com or call (813) 251-2800.
New shop can put brides in right dress
In the five years since she was a bride, Tampa native MaryIsabel Rooney, dreamt of opening Isabel O'Neil Bridal Collection. Next week, she'll walk down the aisle of her new Dale Mabry Highway boutique, a block south of Neptune Avenue.
Rooney's store is the only one in the bay area featuring wedding gown designs by Romona Keveza, Ines diSanto and Alyne Bridal.
The store will sell "both their couture, luxe lines and their more moderate lines," said Rooney, 33. Prices range from $2,000 to $8,000.
The shop sells veils and other accessories by Amanda Judge and will soon add bridesmaids' gowns and shoes. Alterations and other services will be available, too. Brides-to-be may book the entire salon for a private session with their bridal party.
"I want brides to know they don't have to leave Tampa to find a gown and to feel confident they are getting the right advice," said Rooney, a 2002 graduate of the University of South Florida.
Isabel O'Neil Bridal Collection, 1540 S Dale Mabry, Suite E, is open by appointment only. Visit isabelbridal.com or call (813) 251-1749.
Andrea Lauren Elegant Interiors can better showcase its decorative home accessories, fine furnishings and gifts in its new Carriage Trade Plaza storefront on S Dale Mabry Highway, said owner Priscilla Castellano.
The interior design firm, named for her two granddaughters, was behind a MacDill Avenue dry cleaners and a restaurant for the past three years.
Lamps, rugs, silk flowers, glasses and barware catch the eye. "Many unique pieces,'' she said.
Design services offered in the large workroom include upholstery, furniture restoration and custom window treatments.
Andrea Lauren Elegant Interiors, 1710 S Dale Mabry Highway, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Visit andrealaureninteriors.com or call (813) 839-7557.
La Joya owner Myriam Castellano closed her 2832 S MacDill Ave. boutique in May, relocating her stylish women's clothing and accessories to 4526 W Village Drive in the Village Corners shopping center of Carrollwood.
"The new store is three times bigger, and there's plenty of parking," she said. Castellano is especially excited to introduce her own clothing designs, custom sewn in Tampa. Hours remain the same: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday. Visit lajoyaoftampa.com or call (813) 963-1300.
Second Image thrift store closed last month due to a rent increase, according to an employee who answered the phone at the popular Kennedy Boulevard and Armenia Avenue corner shop. All merchandise has been moved to the Pinellas Park store, 9099 U.S. 19 N in the Mainlands Village Shopping Center.
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