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Stocks can fall, but we'll shop till we drop

Isn't it just like Tampa?

A decade of high-flying stocks and spending like there's no tomorrow, and International Plaza waits until the week the stock market descends into you-know-where to announce we'll finally have our own Dior couture around the corner from the Bucs' stadium.

Thank God for those people whose spending is not affected by the vagaries of the stock market and the world economy.

Actually, I'm one of them. The way I shop _ I don't consider anything on sale unless it's at least 40 percent off the marked-down price, and by that time most everything in my size, style or colors is gone _ it doesn't really matter that my net worth is now about 37 cents. I'll keep on shopping like I always do.

The International Plaza retailers are sharp. They targeted me early on.

Neiman Marcus catalogs have blitzed my mailbox for a couple of years. And now my friends at Neiman's are even sending me e-mail.

Find the hottest trend of the season now at

Their first suggestion? John Hardy's Eclipse Lava earrings, $995.

Nordstrom catalogs arrive almost daily, Tiffany's only seasonally, but Tiffany has more than four seasons.

I've been on the edge of my seat waiting for the names of all the stores. The lineup of about 100 hit my newspaper on Thursday _ and there's space for 100 more!

Okay, there's plenty of ho-hum (Tommy Hilfiger) and same-old (another Body Shop, another Bombay Company). I could do without J. Crew. Or Hollywood Java, a coffee place with large-screen TVs (bad enough) showing "Hollywood events."

Still, there's plenty to get excited about.

Tiffany. I lived in New York for 15 years and never entered their Fifth Avenue store, but that's just like a New Yorker _ you only need to know the best things are available to you, you don't actually have to use them. I probably feared, too, that I looked too little like Audrey Hepburn and lived a little too much like Holly Golightly. Tiffany's signature blue box is so classy it doesn't matter what's inside, and it's still the most romantic place to buy an engagement ring, or any diamond. (Let's hope the store isn't next to Kahunaville, a theme restaurant with a talking robotic turtle and hourly cries of "Surf's Up!")

Nordstrom. Their new flagship store in Seattle had opened only to dignitaries when I was there a couple of years ago, but I'm counting on Nordstrom as the place for basics _ T-shirts, khakis, pajamas, shoes. I don't know, though, how Tampa will take to the West Coast comfort fashions (dresses that have no waist) they show in their catalog.

Cole Haan and Stuart Weitzman. Hooray! I'm saved the pilgrimage to these Madison Avenue stores whenever I'm in New York, hating to waste time in the city trying on shoes.

Aveda Environmental Lifestyle Store. I love Aveda products, like the Foot and Hand Relief creams, but they're now available in Tampa only at one or two small salons.

Betsey Johnson. When Betsey Johnson was designing for a brand called Paraphernalia in the '60s I bought (on sale) one of her mini-sundresses, shocking pink with chartreuse polka dots. Her stuff has only gotten funkier _ and she still wears it. I don't, but now, who knows?

I liked the minimalist clothes at BCBG Max Azria in Portland. And maybe, just maybe, Ville du Pain, a patisserie they say is from Lyon, will make a decent croissant.

Sept. 14 is slated for the opening. That's only 181 more days.

Meanwhile, Thursday at my exercise class the buzz was about the just-opened Burlington Coat Factory at Britton Plaza. "It's nice," said one woman.

"Dangerously nice," said another.

And I've got a coupon.

_ Sandra Thompson is a writer living in Tampa. She can be reached at City Life runs on Saturday.