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The wilder side of Father's Day

Many dads have a secret wild side begging to be set free on Father's Day _ really!

If you think your dad is one of them, you may want to consider giving him something to satisfy those yearnings. Something a little exotic _ like a black leather Harley Davidson jacket, maybe.

So he doesn't ride a Harley? Doesn't matter. He can at least look like he does.

The jacket we've chosen for the dad in the photo is $350 at Harley Davidson of St. Petersburg (5989 Haines Road). The baby-size vest is $49.95.

This store is split into two sections. To the right are the chrome and metal motorcycle parts, to the left are the jackets and Harley Davidson trinkets. The store sells everything a Harley lover could want, from sunglasses and watches to pajamas and Christmas ornaments.

But if your dad just isn't the leather type, you may want to take advantage of a limited sale at the Gabicci men's wear distribution warehouse (3200 Tyrone Blvd., Unit 1, St. Petersburg).

Gabicci is a 25-year-old casual sportswear line made in England. Normally the St. Petersburg warehouse is not open to the public. Its sole purpose is to distribute Gabicci fashions to men's specialty clothing stores throughout the United States.

But this weekend, Mansel Jones, managing director of Gabicci U.S.A. is temporarily opening his doors. "We want to give the public the opportunity to buy Gabicci when we clear out the surplus inventory," Jones said.

If you haven't heard of Gabicci, you're not alone. Gabicci isn't exactly a household name in the United States and it's not available in department stores. "It's not a traditional line. It's got a European flavor," Jones said. "Gabicci is as popular and well-known outside the U.S. as Ralph Lauren is here."

Knit and silk shirts regularly selling between $40 and $65 will be on sale for $10 to $22. Italian-made sweaters regularly selling for $120 can be purchased for $35 to $45. Men's jogging suits and lightweight jackets also will be available.

The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Leave your credit card at home; only cash and checks will be accepted.

Store's one big party

These days, when folks want to throw a party they don't just call up a few friends and have everyone bring a casserole over. Instead, some party givers are choosing to design and theme their parties.

Parties Galore (Largo Mall, 510 Ulmerton Road, Largo), a Hallmark party supply store, opened in April but celebrated its opening May 22. Everything in the store, all the way down to the confetti-decorated carpeting, makes you feel like throwing a party.

You'll find everything you need for a theme party here. The store offers the basic plates, napkins, cups and favors, as well as services such as computerized calligraphy, imprinting, custom banners, party coordination and centerpieces. The custom centerpieces are the store's most popular item.

The hot party theme at the moment is graduation, says assistant manager Janet Hatch. Next in popularity is the Barney birthday party for children.

Prices range from 3 cents for a Tootsie roll up to $25 for a custom centerpiece. Parties Galore offers accessories for themes such as fiesta, rock 'n' roll, golf, nautical and the basic anniversaries and baby showers. Kids have a wide range of choices for a party theme, including sharks, Super Mario Brothers, the Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.

The store also has items such as stationery, rubber stamps, stickers, Shoe Box Greetings gifts and products from the Sanrio Surprises Hello Kitty line.

A shopping tradition

Like restaurants, locally owned retail shops come and go, but when one hangs on for 47 years, as Shelart Discount Crafts (3400 70th Ave. N, Pinellas Park) has done, it becomes a shopping tradition.

Over the years Shelart has moved from its former downtown St. Petersburg location, divided into four rooms and grown to about 3,300 square feet. Not only can you find shelf after shelf of craft supplies but you also can shop for antiques, collectibles and even women's fashions.

Carolyn Groover, owner of Shelart, recently opened Carolyn's Closet, a women's consignment shop, inside the store.

"I've always been a very thrifty person," Groover says. "When you buy something you can give something else away."

Groover stresses that her shop still specializes in hard-to-find craft items. Today marks the end of the 20 percent off craft supplies sale.

Wheels galore

This spring, Erle Boynton, a member of the International In-line Skating Association, decided to open Blades & Bikes (201 W Platt St., Suite A, Tampa).

On Sunday, Blades & Bikes is having an open house from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Shoppers can try out the merchandise as well as food from nearby restaurants.

Blades & Bikes offers in-line skates (fitness brands such as Bauer and Roces), mountain bikes, athletic clothing and safety accessories.

Prices on skates range from $159 to $268 and bikes are $429 to $610.

Rentals and instruction are available. "We try to determine what the customer wants to do with the product before they buy it," Boynton said.

Calling all shoppers

Where do you shop and why? Write, fax or call Shop Talk and let us know. If your store plans an unusual sale or promotion, we want to hear that, too. Call the Days Off line at 892-2313 or write to Pamela Davis-Diaz, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Or fax, 893-8675.

Gabicci Men's Wear

CONTINENTAL LOOK FOR DAD: Men's clothes with a European touch are available this weekend during a special warehouse sale of Gabicci casual sportswear just in time for Father's Day.