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International Plaza gets three new chain stores

TAMPA — Three chains new to the Tampa Bay market will open stores at International Plaza in coming months.

One of them, Urban Outfitters' Free People store, which opens this month, will be the first in Florida.

"We're thrilled," said Nina Mahoney, marketing manager for Taubman Centers Inc., which controls the mall. "They each provide merchandise you won't see elsewhere."

The new merchants are:

• Free People, a 42-store chain created by the owners of youthful lifestyle brands Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, sells women's apparel, accessories and gifts. Considered a bit more fashion conscious, younger and bohemian than the more traditional Anthropologie, Free People takes over space vacated by the closing of Ed Hardy. The stores are an outgrowth of the Free People clothing line, which was first made for a Philadelphia store of the same name. The target customer is a self-confident 26-year-old female who considers herself "sweet to rough, tomboy to romantic."

When the owners changed their store's name to Urban Outfitters, they continued wholesaling Free People apparel through other stores. The Free People stores debuted in 1984.

• PINK, a new intimate apparel chain split off from lingerie giant Victoria's Secret, will target younger customers. PINK opens in June in space vacated by Fossil, which is talking with the mall about moving to other space. The PINK store is a market exclusive for International Plaza.

• Love Culture, another flashy, trendy rival to the affordable fashions sold by H&M, Zara and Forever 21, moves this summer into space Bath & Body Works is leaving for another storefront. Only five years old, the Los Angeles chain has spread to 50 stores in 24 states. Its motto: "Where girls take over."

Zen Bistro Grill & Sushi Bar, a locally owned Asian fusion restaurant, just opened in the mall's Bay Street restaurant district.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8252.

International Plaza gets three new chain stores 04/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 8:27pm]
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