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Beach Drive women's shop to change name, keep service

Johnston of Florida will become Copland's, and sees the new Neiman Marcus as no threat.

By LENNIE BENNETT

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 12, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- When International Mall opens in Tampa, shoppers on this side of Tampa Bay are expected to make their way over the bridge for upscale merchandise.

But you don't have to go that far, at least for designer clothing for women. Johnston of Florida on Beach Drive has sold high -- and high-priced -- fashion for decades, first as John Baldwin, a family business run by the late Baldwin, and then, for the past nine years, as Johnston. Within the month, the store will be renamed Copland's.

Johnston of Florida has two shops, one here and another in Naples. It is part of a seven-store chain owned by the Greenberg family under the name Silver Fox Corp. The other five shops, in Greenville and Columbia, S.C., Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., and Richmond, Va., are called Copland's.

"It's to make all the stores the same," said Suzanne Fisher, manager of the St. Petersburg shop. "Copland's does a lot of national promotions that we haven't been able to tag into. They are the premier stores in Charlotte, Richmond and Greenville and the name carries a lot of clout."

She said the store carries many of the designer lines that will be sold at the new mall.

"We have a lot of luxury Italian lines such as Dolce Gabbana, Furla, Loro Piana and Agnona, as well as Kay Unger, Chetta B, John Patrick and Burberry.

"And you don't have to drive over the bridge for them," Fisher said. "Kate Spade and St. John Knits are exclusive to us in St. Petersburg and we have more Kate Spade than Saks in Tampa."

She said she is not worried about losing customers to International Mall.

"Our strength is service," she said. "I know Neiman Marcus is known for their service, too, but our size makes us unique. We have tailoring here. We know everyone's name. And we have Frances."

"Frances" is Frances Stockton, a fixture in downtown women's clothing shops for three decades, who has dressed a coterie of loyal customers for years.

Fisher said Stockton has several clients in New York and Ohio who order clothes year-round and have them shipped.

"If a customer has a special need, we research it and find the right outfit and order it for her," Fisher said. "James Hogan (a New York designer) is coming down soon just to design a Christmas outfit for one of our customers. That's the kind of service we offer."

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