Our friend Holley Sinn, co-host of the Studio 10 morning show on WTSP-Ch. 10, was remarking the other day about the bounty of fashion bargains hereabouts. "In most cities, the 'boutiques' use an outrageous mark-up, but not here. I was amazed that I spent an entire day shopping, hitting every boutique I knew of, and I spent roughly $200. It was ridiculous."
She's right. Tampa Bay's independent fashion retailers are the oases we turn to when mall stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters shut us out like window-staring children from a Dickens novel. Some of these shops make "repurposing," "vintage" and "upcycling" their buzzwords, offering a haute-couture shopping experience on a K-mart budget with hand-crafted merchandise, artsy decor, and clean, neatly organized displays. But if we do decide to splurge, there are plenty of chi-chi boutiques showing one-of-a-kind something-somethings for that special night out.
The guide below lists some of our favorite local indie boutiques. But we know the number of independent shops is vast and growing; if we left any out, let us know. Many feature coupons online, so be sure to check their websites, too. And if you wanna know more about shopping local? Visit LocalShops1.com!
All Sewn Up If you're tired of the "same old, same old," you can trust that this shop will give you the breath of fresh air you need, in a space that maintains a healthy and attractive balance between edgy and boho flair. The purchasers shop smart — they only buy one size in each item, so you can have the satisfaction of knowing you're one of the few who owns the piece. Plus, the store treats students and those in the hospitality industry to a 10 percent discount on Mondays and Tuesdays. 621 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-289-7034, allsewnupboutique.com. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Sun. —Melissa Beck
Artpool Proprietress Marina Williams and her intrepid cohorts pool together a uniquely hip and eclectic selection of vintage fashion for both men and women. Discerning shoppers can complement their wardrobes (and homes) with Artpool's handmade jewelry, vinyl records, artwork, vintage collectibles and other accouterments of indie pop-culture fun. 919 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg. 727-324-3878, artpoolgallery.com. Tues.-Sat., Noon-6 p.m. —Julie Garisto
Bella Moda The ever-hopping, relentlessly upscale Beach Drive in downtown St. Pete is starting to resemble that other, more famous Beach Drive in Miami, and Bella Moda is the epitome of South Beach chic in the Burg. The shop sells trendy looks, handmade jewelry and accessories, plus Brazilian swimwear. 30 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-623-9981. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-6 p.m; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., Noon-5 p.m. —JG
Bentley's Boutique A comforting, chic boutique named for owner Torrie Tiernan's beloved malti-poo. Buy or sell. A unique collection, ranging from local jewelry designers Sid Tori and Feather to trendy threads from Betsey Johnson and Diane von Furstenberg. 6 Sixth St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-403-7280, facebook.com/bentleysboutique. Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri., 11 a.m- 6:30 p.m.; Weds. and Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. —Chloe Lykes
Babybird Vintage Amber Drees and Illene Sofranko's vintage shop on Etsy offers unique and stylish vintage clothing, shoes, purses and accessories. Most pieces under $20. etsy.com/shop/babybirdvintage. —JG
Buffalo Gal Vintage Giddy on up for distinctive, snazzy all-Mad-Men-up-in-yo-face couture, decor, accessories — and even pinup-style photography. The newly relocated shop is a paradise for shoppers who love to sift through antique and repro goods. On Facebook, BGV posts a contest for pinup of the month, based on wall posts with the most "likes." And their Pinups and Pooches event deserves awesome props, having raised a crate of cash for the Humane Society of Pinellas. 911 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-290-8468, buffalogalvintage.com. —JG
The Chameleon South of the Skyway, this shop offers an array of tops, dresses and other pieces made of natural fibers, plus unique jewelry and accessories. 2801 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, 941-747-4477, thechameleonboutique.com. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Sun. —JG
Disco Dolls Whimsy, fun and function epitomize the Dolls' designs. Sisters Kristine Bush and Leigh Anne Balzekas, and hairstylist Maxwell Maisano, run the Disco Dolls Studio, an artistic space equipped with hair, styling and tailoring services. Made entirely of vintage and recycled fabrics, their new collection marries style and sustainability. Whether you're looking for vintage cocktail dresses, colorful tees or gypsy skirts, the Disco Dolls have you covered. 408 N Howard Ave., Studio A, 813-641-4367, thediscodolls.com. Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and by appointment. See photos from the Disco Dolls fashion shoot at the Independent. —Melanie Wiesen
DROP This is not your grandma's floral-print Florida-friendly boutique. The Northeast St. Pete house-converted-into-a-shop offers the best of "surf or city," where a combo of urban sophistication and trendy looks converge with cute beachwear. Owner Caroline Saunders has lived in Hawaii and traveled all over. Her experiences inspired her to sell fashions that "snuggle up harmoniously in your suitcase." 2012 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-490-7799, surforcity.com. Mon., 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. —JG