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Sears sets up shop in Dillard's place

Mall wars mean moving stores as Dillard's move to International Plaza prompts Sears to leave Tampa Bay Center.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 31, 2002

CHANGES AT WESTSHORE PLAZA: The former Dillard's is being remodeled into a Sears, which is scheduled to open Oct. 17. Included will be a new outparcel Sears Auto Center north of the store, landscaping and a resurfaced parking lot.

All you Maggiano's take-out customers -- which at times seems like half of Tampa -- have probably noticed the construction on the south side of the future Sears. That will become a P.F. Chang's China Bistro, to open early next year. Inside the mall, hip women's clothing retailer Charlotte Russe will open late this year.

If you're keeping score in the local mall wars, International lured Dillard's away from WestShore last year. To fill the Dillard's vacancy, WestShore snagged Sears away from the nearly dead Tampa Bay Center. The way we see it, nothing short of a Jedi council-brokered peace treaty will bring harmony to the galaxy.

THEIR LITTLE MASTERPIECE: The sudden closing of Giancola's Market two weeks ago left a void at Palma Ceia Village shopping center. But another one will soon be filled.

One half of the former Athletic Shoe Factory -- the signage of which you can still see from the Selmon Expressway -- will soon house My Little Masterpiece. (The Write Stuff store has occupied the other half of the former Athletic Shoe Factory store for a few months now.)

Scheduled to open June 15 in the Palma Ceia Village shopping center at 3225 S MacDill Ave., it will be an art supplies, art studio and party center for kids. Business owners Gina Burnett and Meaghan Weathers are mothers with extensive art instruction experience.

Over half of the 1,200-square-foot store will house a large room for art parties (up to 20 kids) and large art classes. There will also be smaller studios that can be used on a walk-in basis for kid's arts and crafts projects.

Arts and crafts supplies will be sold in the front of the store; keep an eye out for store coupons. Business hours will be weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.

TAMPA'S TOUR GUIDE AT CHANNELSIDE: The Garrison Seaport saw a 17 percent increase last year in cruise ship passengers over 2000. That was enough to lure the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau's information center away from its central downtown location to the Shops at Channelside, right by the cruise terminal.

The TBCVB's Karen Brand also cited the burgeoning Channel District nearby as a reason the visitors center moved from the ground floor of Park Tower (aka the Lykes Building) to 615 Channelside Drive, Suite 2800.

Information counselors, maps and a plethora of brochures for local attractions are currently available. But Brand said interactive information kiosks and online ticket purchasing for many local attractions will soon be added. An addition that the new center already has over the old one: Sunday hours, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, it's open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The new phone number is 223-2752.

-- Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3382, or e-mail

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