Leggett to try 2-month trial of Sunday shopping Family tradition kept stores closed

September 13, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER -- Leggett department store will break a family tradition and open on Sundays for a two-month trial beginning next month.

The store in Cranberry Mall will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays from Oct. 4 to Dec. 27, said Fred B. Leggett Jr., vice president of operations.

The Leggett family, which founded the department store chain in Virginia about 75 years ago, had kept its stores closed on Sundays because of its belief that the day is a time to spend in church and with family.

Mr. Leggett, 55, who spoke Thursday at a Carroll County Chamber of Commerce lunch, still believes that the tradition should be honored. The Leggett store in Danville, Va., where he lives, will remain closed on Sundays, he said.

The company's board of directors decided to open all its stores but that one on Sundays, in part because customers have said they want to shop on that day, he said. The board will make a decision next year about whether to open the stores on Sundays permanently, he said.

Leggett has about 60 stores in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia and North Carolina and has been in Westminster since 1965.

"Westminster is a nice-sized town for our type of operation," Mr. Leggett said. "It has been very good to us."

Mr. Leggett, one of four cousins currently running the company, spoke Thursday about improving customer service. About 56 people attended the lunch at the Wakefield Valley Golf Club.

Because of increasing competition, the department store chain is working to improve customer service, he said. Four years ago, the company surveyed its customers and found what they want most is a good selection of merchandise.

If a store doesn't have the merchandise customers want, they won't return, he said.

The survey showed that customers want gift wrapping, alterations and quick service, Mr. Leggett said. Delivery and mailing service also are in demand, he said.

Companies must be willing to make changes to satisfy customers, Mr. Leggett said.

Changing and planning are important, but managers and employees are key, he said.

"If there's one secret to all of it, it's good people," Mr. Leggett said.

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