Get out those credit cards, shoppers -- two new department stores opened in the county this week.
Montgomery Ward & Co. in Cranberry Mall in Westminster and Peebles Department Store in Carrolltowne Mall in Eldersburg opened Monday, with grand opening ceremonies planned later this week.
Montgomery Ward, Cranberry Mall's largest anchor, also is opening an Auto Express center.
A grand opening ceremony for Peebles, which replaced the Jamesway store that closed in July, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Entertainment, including mimes and music, will begin in the store Thursday.
Montgomery Ward will have a breakfast and ribbon-cutting ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. Friday.
The new mall store officially will open Sunday.
Peebles manager Catherine E. Myers said opening the store several days before the opening ceremony gives the staff time to make a few sales and get used to the routine.
The store, part of a 50-store chain based in South Hill, Va., sells brand-name and designer clothes for the whole family, including Liz Claiborne, Osh Kosh, Levi's, Arrow and Koret, and some home furnishings, she said.
Because the store is opening close to the start of the Christmas shopping season, a "Trim and Tree" shop will be open, Myers said.
The 30,000-square-foot store employs 42 full- and part-time sales associates, most of whom are from the county, she said.
In Carrolltowne Mall, located at Liberty and Ridge roads, Peebles joins K-mart, Rite Aid, SuperFresh and about 50 other stores.
Since Peebles announced in July it would open in the mall, four other stores have opened, said David A. Cianelli, mall general manager. The department store is a "major draw" for other stores, he said.
Jon Buck, president of the Freedom District Business Association, said Peebles will help keep shoppers who might have driven to Westminster or Owings Mills in South Carroll.
"It strengthens the Carrolltowne Mall. We really don't have a store of that caliber here," he said.
The mall is more than 90 percent leased, said Norman Suss, development director and vice president of Erwin L. Greenberg Associates of Baltimore, operator of the mall. Six stores, with about 2,000 square feet each, are available.
Montgomery Ward will stock home electronics and major appliances in its "Electric Avenue" section, and offer furniture, bedding, lighting fixtures, window treatments, clothing and jewelry. It also will have an appliance and electronics repair section called "Doctronics."
Manager Ann Mutmansky said the store will open at 10 a.m. Sunday and will give away more than $6,000 in prizes, including General Electric appliances, vacations and T-shirts.
The store has about 90,000 square feet and employs about 175 people.
Bernard F. Brennan, Montgomery Ward chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release, "We are bringing to Westminster a store which will represent the very latest in our specialty store concept. The unique design element is a contemporary, mall-like setting within a single structure."
Frank Meyer, acting manager at Cranberry Mall, said a fourth anchor will help attract more stores to the mall. The mall is more than 90 percent occupied.