Michael Kors, Tory Burch add to International Plaza's designer boutiques

Add Michael Kors and Tory Burch to the designer boutique lineup at International Plaza.

Kors' shop opens after Thanksgiving in the former Iridesse spot at the Tampa mall.

The bigger news among fashionistas is that Burch, a New York designer whose sportswear and accessories are among the few bright spots in luxury goods, will open there in the second half of 2010. Of her 16 boutiques, the only others in Florida are in Palm Beach and Bal Harbour.

The mercurial rise of the 43-year-old socialite's "preppy-boho" line five years after launch achieved a quick liftoff thanks to an Orpah Winfrey endorsement.

Now her stuff is seen at Neiman Marcus and Saks and worn by enough people on Gossip Girl that Burch appeared as herself on the TV show.

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Outback Steakhouse signed up as a sponsor of country music superstar Tim McGraw's Southern Voice tour. So expect sweepstakes offers, music downloads and ticket giveaways for the singer's 57-city concert tour to be part of the Tampa restaurant chain's new frequent diner program that kicks off in January.

One deal: a $5 Outback coupon for buying the Southern Voice CD.

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Hoping to hitch a ride on the "local produce is better" bandwagon, Publix Super Markets Inc. has loaded up to heavily promote the new Redland Raised brand. Created by the Miami-Dade County government and the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, this new "buy local" label goes on fruits and vegetables grown in Homestead, which during some winter months is what the rest of the country is eating, too.

"To us, Florida is local," said Publix spokeswoman Kim Jaeger.

The first batch of Redland Raised products are avocado, boniata, green beans and yellow and zucchini squash.

Elsewhere in the country, they will be labeled "Fresh from Florida."

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New England Confectionery Co., maker of pastel Necco Wafers, has switched from artificial to natural flavors and coloring for the first time in the company's 162-year history. Such yummies as beet juice, purple cabbage, cocoa powder and turmeric are among new ingredients. But not all colors could be copied.

"We lost green," Jackie Hague, vice president of marketing, told the Associated Press.

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Southwest and Alaska Airlines are offering WiFi service for laptops on selected flights, but in-flight Internet is available only for a stiff fee.

Row 44, the California company testing various packing and pricing before going systemwide in January, thinks it may be able to increase the 4 to 12 percent signup rate if laptop-toting road warriors can get a free warmup as a teaser.

So beginning Nov. 1, Row 44 now offers some travel booking sites, a flight-tracker, games, Skymall and live streaming video of HSN TV shopping and online ordering. Covering some of the cost will be advertisers, the St. Petersburg TV shopping network and Skymall (which uses some HSN-owned mail order catalogs).

"We've learned that people behave differently" when killing time cooped up in airplanes, said Wendy Campanella, Row 44 vice president of marketing.

People who toss all catalogs at home, for instance, routinely thumb through Skymall. HSN might snag converts who refuse to watch TV shopping on the ground.

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

Michael Kors, Tory Burch add to International Plaza's designer boutiques 11/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2009 3:00pm]

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