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IIFA Expo glitters with clothing, jewelry, food, real estate

Real estate developers from India aimed to draw in investors. Two food stalls offered samosas and all things masala. UNICEF drew attention to children's issues.

But most prominent at the IIFA Expo at the Tampa Convention Center on Thursday were the Indian clothes, bright and glittering.

Mother and daughter Carol and Kelly Binding wandered through the 40 or so stalls mesmerized by wares retailers brought from mostly Atlanta but also Tampa, Chicago, New Jersey and even as far as New Delhi.

"We just came here to learn about what the different outfits are and about the different kinds of saris and where you'd wear them," Carol Binding said. "Everything's so colorful."

But as far as buying anything? "It's a lot pricier than we expected," she said.

Especially by standards in bargain-savvy India. Price tags for clothing were almost exclusively more than $100 with many pushing into several hundred or even upward of $2,000. Staff at Bawree's — a popular stall with everything marked 39 percent off — helped Kelly Binding drape a sari.

"I loved the sari they put on me, but where am I going to get to wear that?" she said.

Jewelry was also out on display with price points that seemed easier to swallow. Riddhi Fazal came from Atlanta with jewelry from her online sales outfit Belsi's Collection, priced from $40 up.

"It seemed like a good place to showcase our products because there are people coming in from all over," she said. "Earrings sell well because they're so easy to match with any outfit."

A steady but not large crowd flowed throughout the event, which continues Friday and Saturday — until the stars arrived.

Hundreds of fans pressed in when actor Anil Kapoor entered to inaugurate the first-time International Indian Film Academy event by cutting a red ribbon, lighting a ceremonial lamp and sipping chai on stage.

"I never expected this," Kapoor said to a crowd screaming and chanting "Mr. India," an iconic 1987 role he played. "I expected everyone to be there at the awards, but … finding crowds everywhere I go this weekend shows a spectacular success."

IIFA Expo glitters with clothing, jewelry, food, real estate 04/24/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 4:30pm]
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