Retail Therapy: The Spring of Tampa Bay

Tampa's bustling vintage thrift stores were highlighted a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times. Even this fashion-senseless do-gooder knows that buying used has other reasons beyond fashionista-ing.

Tiffany Cole has worked at the Simply Spring thrift store for the last two years but she didn't want to be "just a cashier" anymore. The store, at 209 North Willow in Tampa, benefits The Spring of Tampa Bay, the largest domestic violence shelter in Hillsborough County.

"We're a big family," Tiffany says of her regular shoppers, who range from abused women to members of the community (and Channel 13's Russell Rhodes, she was quick to point out.) In sales, this "family" generates a half a million bucks a year for The Spring, according to Cole. And still, she says, "It's fashion at modest prices."

Tiffany decided that a fashion show would be a great fundraiser as well as a good way for women in the shelter to spend a Saturday. She told me there's "not much for women in the shelter to do during the day. Jobs are hard to find." Again, she cited Rhodes for encouraging her to plan the show.

The fashion show takes place Saturday, April 24th at the Taproot Community Center at 1405 Tampa Park Plaza from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Recently I spoke with the Joanne Lighter, Executive Director of the Spring about the importance of the shelter in these rough economic times. She told me that when it comes to domestic issues, "families sometimes suffer loudly. Sometimes there's not a police report at all." The Spring, she said, "is a place of safety." When you discover that home isn't a safe place and you think there's nowhere to turn, in Tampa Bay at least, there is always a safe place to go.

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