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Talbots to debut in Countryside

Talbots, a classic women's clothing store, will open its first Pinellas store in the Countryside area in February.

The new store will be at Northwood Plaza on McMullen Booth and Enterprise roads.

Spangles and glitter?

There's little of that at Talbots.

Behind their trademark red doors are wooden shelves stacked high with soft, wool sweaters. Costume jewelry displays feature lots of pearls with an occasional rhinestone. And navy blazers, khaki slacks and silk skirts with paisley prints are always in season.

Talbots "will be a good addition to the mix (of stores) that's already there," said Margaret Burnside, fashion editor of Tampa Bay Magazine. "Their particular "look' is not represented."

Desanya Daly, senior property manager for Arnold Management in Clearwater, said the Massachusetts-based retail and catalog store has leased 5,000 square feet of space in Northwood Plaza. The exact location is a free-standing building on Eastland Boulevard north of Jacobson's, the shopping center's anchor department store.

Construction is under way and tell-tale signs that the non-descript building is about to become a part of the Talbots chain are becoming visible, Daly said.

"Women have already been calling me with questions," Daly said.

Ms. Burnside said Northside Plaza is a logical location for Talbots because the shopping center is already known as a "fashion destination" in Pinellas.

Betsy Thompson, a public relations manager for Talbots, said the company's decision to open a store in the Countryside area "was based on the strength of catalog sales in the area. We felt it would be a good location for us," she said.

The store will stock women's sportswear, career clothing and special occasion dresses in misses sizes 4-20 and petite sizes 2-14. Nearly 95 percent of the merchandise offered is Talbots' own brand, she said.

Talbots got its start in 1947 as "The Talbots" when Rudolf and Nancy Talbot opened the first store in Hingham, Mass.

The next year, Talbots distributed 3,000 black-and-white fliers to names obtained from the New Yorker magazine, launching its catalog business.

The chain operates 380 specialty retail stores in 44 states and the District of Columbia. There are also Talbots stores in Canada and the United Kingdom.