TAMPA — The Container Store knows how to organize a closet. It also knows how to throw a party.
More than 2,000 people, mostly women, packed the Container Store in Tampa on Thursday night to get a sneak peek of the store before it opens Saturday. Guests mingled among the aisles of hampers, hangers and handbag organizers, sipping wine and sampling hors d'oeuvres.
Stations throughout the store had food cleverly served in little plastic boxes and arranged in mini file cabinets and desk organizers. The cash register area was converted into an open bar, and waiters circulated the 25,000-square-foot store handing out rosemary lemonades and cucumber lime vodka drinks.
"I've been waiting for this for seven years," said Suzanne Brownstein of the Junior League of Tampa. "I have visions about organizing my garage."
The Junior League, a volunteer group that helps local children, will receive 10 percent of sales this Saturday and Sunday, an amount expected to exceed $70,000. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Garrett Boone, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Dallas-based chain, posed for photos with customers and hit the dance floor as a band belted out Dancing Queen and Isn't She Lovely, a nod to the store's target audience.
Barbara Zdravecky of Anna Maria Island has visited Container Stores across the country and was thrilled to get a location across from International Plaza, the 59th nationwide and third in Florida.
"Everyone I know wants to come to the Container Store," she said. "It has universal appeal. To get one in Tampa is a real sign that we're a good market."
Even Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn attended the preview party, not as mayor but as a dad with two young girls and a lot of stuff.