It's starting to get lonely at Sam's Golf World.
Vacant store fronts flank the sports specialty store on both sides. Though business is good, the manager said, he worries about his location, the Festivalat Pasadena mall on Ritchie Highway.
"People finally know who we are," said Dan Lauffer, "but unfortunately we may end up the only one out here.
"We're doing just fine," he added. "The shopping center is a disgrace."
Lauffer, who manages the family-owned business, had just been told that Annapolis Clothing Co. had declared bankruptcy earlier in the week. Since December, three other stores in the mall either have closed or are holding going-out-of-business sales.
The Festival includes four separate strip malls along Ritchie Highway, just south of Jumpers Hole Road. Out of 24 stores in two of them, 11 are empty. At the other two store fronts, only one -- anchored by Blockbuster Video -- is fully rented.
"It does worry you when you see so many stores around you going out," said Linda Jenkins, who manages Raimondi's Flower and Gifts. "On Valentine's Day, we were kind of worried, but we did OK."
The Festival mall is owned by Trammell Crow Cos., a Dallas-based corporation that also owns the Festival at Riva, An
napolis Fashion Festival, Park Plaza and Festival at Valu Foods, both in Severna Park.
Dan Feeney, a partner in the company, predicted conditions at Pasadena Festivalwill improve.
"Things could be better," he said. "We are trying to reorganize. It will be a rough go of it, but we believe we can turnthings around in the next 12 months. One good anchor and that shopping center will look completely different. We are holding out for thatone tenant who will turn it around."
Stores in the mall which have declared bankruptcy since December are Channel Home Centers, T. J. Cinnamons Bakery, Silk Greenhouse and Annapolis Clothing.
Feeney said some stores may have expanded too fast, while others, like Channel, don't perform well in a tight market.
"It is clear that to improve sales, we will have to fill the Channel and Annapolis Clothing space," he said.
Annapolis Clothing and 12 of its outlets in Maryland filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday. The chain wants to close six stores, including those in Pasadena, Towson and Owings Mills. Fourth-quarter earnings for the company were down 25 percent from those in the same quarter in 1989.
Store owners and clerks in the Pasadena plaza interviewed yesterday said business is steady. While saying they are hurt by the recession, the war and overdevelopment along Ritchie Highway, they credited some of the stores still around, such as T. J. Maxx, with drawing customers to the plaza.
"Of course it is worrying," said David Hare, who runs a photography studio. "A lot of stores are closing. I can't tell you business is good because it's not true."
But Hare, like other store owners, said negative stories only hurt their business more. He cited one story that ran in December about the Silk Greenhouse closing. The flower shop wasin a separate building across the parking lot from the photo studio.
"The story hurt" other stores, Hare said, "because it looked likewe were just hanging on."
Clerks at the center said they were surprised Annapolis Clothing was going out of business. A sign posted inthe window said: "Bankruptcy liquidation sale, 5 to 80 percent off."
A clerk in Annapolis Clothing who refused to give her name said she didn't know much about bankruptcy proceedings, but said other stores are starting to worry.
"Some owners have said they are asking for a reduction in rent because business is so slow," she said. "Everytime you turn around, someone is pulling out of here."