Because Owings Mills is expected to see about 12,000 new housing units built over the next decade or so, and because much of that housing will be aimed at young families, the market for toys there would seem a sure thing.
That's why Toys R Us, the international toy retailer based in Paramus, N.J., decided to build a new, two-story store on the west side of Reisterstown Road, just south of Owings Mills Boulevard, next to the Lion Brothers embroidery factory.
The chain's goal was to locate near a mall, in this case the Owings Mills Mall, but on a separate lot with plenty of parking availability, said John P. Suozzo, general manager at the chain's regional headquarters in Landover.
Toys R Us draws its own customers, people are specifically looking for everything from rubber balls to computer toys, and doesn't need the drawing power, or the rent, of a mall location, Suozzo said.
The chain declined to reveal the cost of its 47,000-square-foot building or the new store's sales performance during its first Christmas season. The new store opened Nov. 10.
"We were very pleased" with the store's performance, Suozzo said simply.
The brightly decorated store, with wide stripes of red, yellow, green and blue tiles against a background of cream-colored cinder blocks, sits far back off the highway behind a parking lot for 300 cars. Huge, even more colorful letters spell out the store name, flanked by the chain's symbol, a huge giraffe named Geoffrey.
Store director David H. Horne said a core of 15 to 20 full-time employees works at the store, with a complete staff varying by season from 50 to a high of 120 at Christmas. The staff is now at 70, with yearly inventory duties at hand, he said.
Horne himself began working for the chain in Charlotte, N.C., in 1986, and transferred here to run the new store. It is the fifth in the Baltimore area, the others being at Catonsville, Towson, Glen Burnie and Rosedale. The chain has 451 stores in the United States, and 98 more worldwide. The chain also operates 164 Kids-R-Us clothing stores.
Although the recession has hurt some retailers, he expressed confidence that, no matter how bad things get, "parents always have a tendency to buy toys for their kids."
* Following are recent commercial real estate transactions:
* The U.S. Department of Justice has leased 3,042 square feet at 575 S. Charles St. according to Coldwell Banker.
* Smith & Williams has leased 1,088 square feet at 34 Market Place, according to Coldwell Banker.
* Gallo Clothing has leased 3,000 square feet at 3720-3722 Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown, according to Coldwell Banker.
* Thorn International Rentals has leased 3,800 squre feet at 2332-36 Frederick Ave., according to Coldwell Banker.
* Howard County has leased 8,100 square feet at Grosvenor Century Plaza to be used as a health clinic, according to W.C. Pinkard & Co.