The transformation at Westfield Sarasota Squareis breathtaking—and there’s more to come. Stage I complete, the once dowdy mall has morphed into a haven for hip young shoppers, with trend-setting brands for teens, glamorous finds for fashionistas, a spiffy new food court and a state-of-the-art 12-theater movie house. Prowl every corridor like an after-school mall rat and you’ll discover retail entertainment, Hollywood-style.
Sock It Tumi The high-tech status luggage for business travelers is cool and chic in basic black, but Tumi has reached out to the hip young set with its affordable nylon T-Tech line in a hot new shade called Flame (Sport Duffle, $195). Freeman's Luggage, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 924-3969.
Pearl Jam? Flat or coin-shaped pearls from Japan’s LakeBiwa are scarce, their nacre impossible to duplicate in waters anywhere else in the world. A collection by Yvel of Israel includes this Biwa pearl and diamond ring ($1,925) at Bond Jewelers, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-1694.
Reality Chick Heidi Montag, bad-girl co-star of MTV reality show The Hills, just designed a clothing line (Heidiwood) for Anchor Blue. Fans adore the sexy young tops, dresses and more, all modeled by Montag in trendy ads. Anchor Blue, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 926-2418.
Buckle Up Get ready to ride with rockers like Nickelback and Daughtry in clothes from Buckle, the celebs’ go-to store for brands including Affliction, Sinful, Filter and more. Jordin Sparks raves about the fit of jeans by BKE, the retailer’s house brand. The Buckle, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 925-0458.
Sex and this City You can dress like Sarah Jessica Parker, amazingly in clothes Steve & Barry’s sells for $8.98 or less. The actress, whose collection is called “Bitten Sarah Jessica Parker,” says she was “bitten” by the store—a play on the phrase “bitten by the acting bug.” Steve & Barry’s, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-4036.
Pawsome! At Build-A-Bear Workshop, kids pick a bear, stuff it, add a satin heart and then dress their furry friend. Success is breeding new species like Tropical Hello Kitty ($20) with hula set ($12.50), denim flower purse ($5) and glitter sandals ($6). Build-A-Bear Workshop, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 9223-6747.
Booster Club Every all-natural smoothie is spiked with your choice of booster (nutritional supplement) at this innovative juice bar, where owner Josh Campbell and crew also serve up shots of matcha and fresh-squeezed wheat grass. Brain Booster, anyone? Booster Juice, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
California Dreaming? Head to Hollister, the store that looks like a West Coast surf shack with a front porch and separate entrances for “Dudes” and “Bettys.” The Abercrombie & Fitch brand for 15-to-24- year-olds has clothes priced for student budgets. Hollister, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 925-1452.
First Class Both serious chefs and novices get top-notch instruction (demos from $35) at Sarasota’s original gourmet cooking shop from chefs like Tricia Dickerson, shown with Le Creuset cast iron in the new Caribbean color (Dutch oven, $219). Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 925-2434.