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The big draws

The anchor stores have famous names, most of them new in this area. Here are some of the goods and services that gave them their cachet.

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 13, 2001


The anchor stores have famous names, most of them new in this area. Here are some of the goods and services that gave them their cachet.

DILLARD'S

A tried-and-true store for many bay area shoppers, Dillard's is a great resource for dressy clothes, shoes, linens, wedding gifts and cosmetics, such as Estee Lauder, Clinique and Lancome.

Hillary Clinton turned to the Arkansas-based store for her wedding dress in 1974. In 1993, she hired Kaki Hockersmith, a former decorator from Dillard's, to redecorate the White House.

The retailer offers name-brand labels such as Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger, Dana Buchman, Jones New York and Polo Ralph Lauren, along with its own private labels, plus quality costume jewelry (Monet, Anne Klein, Carolee) and some fine jewelry. In recent years, it has expanded its special-size offerings.

At a time when more and more consumers are shopping at discount stores such as Target and TJ Maxx, Dillard's is still a reliable, relatively affordable place to buy items you just can't get off-price, and it has a bridal registry.

The store at International Plaza will have the most familiar feel of the center's anchor stores, but this is a deluxe edition, the plaza's only three-level store. It features the retailer's new-millennium design with enhanced lighting, custom fixtures and floor coverings and seating throughout the store for weary shoppers, tired children and patient spouses.

Call: (813) 342-1220Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

LORD & TAYLOR

BOCA RATON -- Lord & Taylor is a safe choice for the fast-track junior executive headed to a golf weekend with the CEO, for the nearly engaged sprucing up to meet future in-laws, for the rookie politician hoping to make a good first impression. From little black party dresses to Sunday best for upwardly mobile children, it's hard to go wrong here.

Lord & Taylor is the nation's oldest specialty department store and is striving to improve an image that has bordered on the fusty. It will debut its new, larger prototype in International Plaza in a two-level store that features warm woods, elegant fabrics and soothing colors.

In New York, Lord & Taylor is a destination for travelers who often show up just before the start of the business day to hear The Star-Spangled Banner and get complimentary cups of coffee.

The term "ladies who lunch" could easily have been coined to describe the generations of mothers and daughters who have taken lunch in the New York store's restaurant, often a cup of soup accompanied by finger sandwiches. (The Tampa store will continue the tradition of playing the national anthem but will have no in-store restaurant.)

Alas, some branches have slipped. In the Lord & Taylor at Town Center in Boca Raton last month, I observed three surly sales representatives who declined to help customers, declaring themselves too busy rearranging merchandise. To be sure, things needed tidying; throughout, the store was in disarray.

Just after Labor Day, my experience in the store in Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, N.C., was much better: Departments were well-organized, and I experienced the courtesy and helpfulness I appreciate.

Look for men's suits by Kenneth Cole, evening wear by Oscar de la Renta and Marc Valeo plus other brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Betsey Johnson, Emme and Skechers. The store emphasizes evening wear, petites and plus-size women's clothing and has its own private labels. It will offer a full-size gift department but no bridal registry.

Call: (813) 353-0101 Hours: (Lord & Taylor opened Wednesday in International Plaza.) Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

NEIMAN MARCUS

BAL HARBOUR -- If you have to ask the price here, you probably can't afford it. For many people, Neiman Marcus is fantasy land, the retailer whose annual Christmas Book advertises spectacular gifts that can cost more than a house. A very big house.

Neiman offers clothes, shoes, jewelry and cosmetics advertised and extolled in Vogue, W and Elle, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo boots, Armani suits and Gaultier pants that appear on haute couture runways and at Academy Awards presentations, the classic St. John knits worn to exclusive charity luncheons.

Your tax refund won't buy very much here; neither will skipping a car payment.

Regardless of protesters and Florida heat, Neiman Marcus sells fur.

Along with luxury outerwear for men, women and children, there is exquisite lingerie, including La Perla. (Your tax refund may cover a bra-and-panty set from this line). The store has a bridal registry and offers precious and designer jewelry, cosmetics, home collections and epicurean and specialty gifts, many of which are probably purchased to impress.

Don't be intimidated about browsing: To a person, the sales staff at the Bal Harbour Neiman Marcus I visited last month was polite and knowledgeable. It is, after all, a store, and you are the potential buyer. Be aware that it accepts no credit cards other than its own and American Express.

Call: (813) 877-5700 Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

NORDSTROM

BOCA RATON -- Before I had ever seen a Nordstrom, I had heard about its extraordinary service: Shirts shipped to a Paris hotel, awaiting a customer when he arrived; shoes replaced after a year's wear, when the request was for just a repair.

What company representatives talk about is the quality of the merchandise -- in private and store labels -- and the wide ranges of sizes Nordstrom offers in shoes and clothing (women's shoes size 3 through 13, widths AA to EE; men's, 5 through 20, AA to EEEE; 1,200 men's suits in 50 sizes).

There's more to love: In the children's department at the Town Center store, computer stations were available to amuse restless little ones. Cosmetics were displayed so that customers could pick up the lipsticks and eyeshadows and test foundation colors for themselves.

International Plaza's two-level store will have another Nordie's trademark: a grand piano, though gone are the days when a pianist was always on duty. There will be an espresso bar and a sit-down restaurant, seating areas outside fitting rooms and a shoe-shine stand. Unique to the new store is the chain's first plus-size golf clothing shop for women. The children's department is decorated with floor tiles hand-painted by local children.

Like other Nordstroms, it will offer, at no charge, a personal shopping service for those who need help dressing for that Really Big Event.

Call: (813) 875-4400 Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

INTERNATIONAL PLAZA

Call: (813) 342-3790

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

On the Web: www.shopinternational.com

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