Computer City SuperCenter planned for Timonium NTC Tandy Corp. store promises brand names, discounts

February 07, 1992

Computer City SuperCenters, a new-generation computer warehouse store launched by the owner of the Radio Shack chain, will bring its "category killer" strategy to Baltimore in April when it opens its first local store in Timonium.

The supermarket-sized store in the Yorkridge Shopping Center could be the first step in an aggressive move into the Maryland market by the Fort Worth-based subsidiary of Tandy Corp.

"My guess is that Baltimore is a market that could get populated by multiple superstores," said Alan Bush, president of Computer City. Asked whether Computer City was likely to look at a location south of the city, such as Glen Burnie, he said, "You would probably not be off base in saying that."

Tandy Corp. launched Computer City in June 1991 in response to sagging Radio Shack sales. Mr. Bush said Computer City emulates the category killer approach of offering everything in one product line at a discount price. The approach has been used by Home Depot in home improvement and Staples in office supplies.

Computer City has opened stores in eight major U.S. markets. Yesterday, the company announced it was opening stores in 10 more U.S. locations, including Baltimore, as well as one in Denmark.

Fran McGehee, a company spokeswoman, said the Computer City chain will have little effect on the Radio Shack chain.

Radio Shack will continue to appeal to buyers who want a lot of guidance from salespeople, she said. Computer City customers "don't need the hand-holding as much," she said.

Radio Shack concentrates on selling the Tandy brand name and other products made for the company, but Computer City will carry a broad selection of computer hardware and software, as well as telephones, fax machines and furniture for computer systems.

Mr. Bush said Computer City is the only retail chain authorized to sell the products of all five top U.S. computer-makers: International Business Machines, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Tandy.

Mr. Bush, a former Baltimore-area resident, said each Computer City superstore -- most of them contain about 25,000 square feet -- eventually will be surrounded by "satellite" stores, outlets of about 5,000 square feet that will carry about half as many items as the warehouse stores do.

For items not stocked, the satellites will be able to get deliveries from the superstore the next day, he said.

Typically, Mr. Bush said, the satellites will be just beyond the distance customers are willing to drive to the superstores.

He mentioned Frederick, Annapolis, Columbia and York, Pa., as possibilities.

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