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Talk of the Bay

High-end spas for sale; cheap ones, too

Published June 19, 2006

One of the nation's largest portable spa and hot tub makers has opened its first factory outlet in Tampa.

But ThermoSpa's store at 14745 N Nebraska Ave. in Tampa comes with a twist.

In addition to discontinued hot tubs and spas, and blemished scratch-and-dent factory defects, this store sells refurbished trade-ins for several other brands for as little as $1,500.

"We were one of the first to get into reselling trade-ins because a lot of our customers are trading up,'' said Andy Tournas, president of the closely held Wallingford, Conn., manufacturer that had $58-million in sales in 2005.

ThermoSpa, which sells its customized product direct to customers through media such as infomercials, specializes in high-end portables equipped with such extras as built-in stereos, TV stands, cigar humidors, refrigerators and bar counters. The "next big thing" in spas: $20,000 and up heated, 14-foot swim spas that function like a lap pool with a water-jet-powered current to swim against, Tournas said.

Why Tampa? "It's one of the 10 biggest spa markets in the U.S.,'' Tournas said. "When we checked the origins of all Google searches for spas and hot tubs, Tampa Bay came out No. 9.''

[Last modified June 19, 2006, 06:15:02]

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