Whether you're looking for something to wear to a party or are hosting one yourself, you don't have to rely on the big-box stores to find what you need. Thrift shops, boutiques and resellers have one-of-a-kind items to give you that distinctive flair and just the right kick to kick off the summer.
New 2 U Thrift Center
10251 Seminole Blvd., Seminole
(727) 465-4261; new2uthriftcenter.com
If you're on a budget and looking for deep discounts, New 2 U Thrift Center in Seminole has party supply discount bins, clothing and inexpensive decor and furniture. The store occupies the old Sher's Kitchen and has multiple showrooms, including items out front and in the parking lot. Furniture pieces placed on the front porch are discounted 50 percent off through Thursday, when it drops to 70 percent through Friday and whatever doesn't sell by Saturday and Sunday is free.
Run by a charitable ministry, the shop has ongoing initiatives to help local nonprofits and the homeless in the community. "We allow homeless people to come into the store and pick out two or three outfits for free, so they have clean clothing to wear," New 2 U employee Kelly Barnes said. Barnes and co-worker Deanna Austin have created a festive environment at the store with patriotic displays. Volunteers like Charlene Fox help stock a mind-boggling variety of household items.
Spotted on a recent visit: a sofa on the outdoor deep discount deck, in surprisingly good condition (just one small stain). The store donated it for free to the first taker. So, if you're a college student or are starting over but need a couch or other household items before hosting your first gathering, New 2 U is a safe bet for a good deal.
Vintage Post Marketplace
5206 N Florida Ave., Tampa
(813) 239-1000; vintagepostmarketplace.com
If you're after vintage items that have been rehabbed and repurposed, head to Vintage Post Marketplace in Seminole Heights. The huge facility has been in business just shy of two years. The store has a wide variety of furniture from all time periods as well as home decor and women's fashion. Vintage Post also supports local artisans and merchants by housing items from local vendors, and it helps regular folks unload their own pieces by way of a furniture consignment shop. Plus, they host "Paint N Sip" classes as well as other events.
31003 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor
You could spend the better part of an afternoon browsing Starboard Home in Palm Harbor. The massive store, which opened in March, spreads across 15,800 square feet. Owners Wendy and Wilson Schmidt stock an eclectic, curated collection of furniture, gifts and decor that includes consignment, co-op displays and imports. Starboard's staggering variety of antiques, industrial and coastal decor, mid-century modern, upcycled items and shabby chic range from high-ticket items to low-cost accessories. It may very well be the only place in Tampa Bay you can purchase a wheel cart from India ($799) at the same time as Tupperware from the 1970s (prices vary).
The Schmidts also support local artists and merchants by providing store space to display their works and wares. Local merchants include Stoney Lawrentz, a photographer who ingeniously incorporates Florida nature photography into jewelry pieces, decor and other items, and Barbara Munday, who designs mosaic-covered plant pots and tables that provide lovely accents for a patio/backyard party. Award-winning watercolor artist Margaret Modjeski is also featured.
The Trunk Stylists
651 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
(727) 202-6861; thetrunkonline.com
If you're looking for items to wear to a Memorial Day barbecue or picnic, shops along the 600 block of downtown St. Petersburg are featuring funky and sophisticated summery fashions. The Trunk Stylists has a great outdoor-wear selection for women at surprisingly affordable prices. Their irreverent "Beach Hair Don't Care"/"Pool Hair Don't Care" tanks cost only $22 and make a cute bathing suit cover-up.
Be sure also to stop by neighbors Suzette's on Central, Star Booty and El-Menswear store, which are offering spring fashions that will give you an unforgettable look on Memorial Day weekend.
Why Not Boutique
3423 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa
(813) 374-2394; whynotboutique.com
Why Not Boutique in South Tampa is known for its "delightful accessories" and has the perfect accouterment for drinkers this weekend — a colorful flask that says, "Woo-Hoo! Party Time!" ($25).