Aladdin makes Disney wishes come trueAladdin never had a...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

November 28, 1992|By Michael Dresser

Aladdin makes Disney wishes come true

Aladdin never had a better friend than his genie. Neither does The Disney Store.

Executives at the Disney Co.'s retail arm couldn't be happier ithey had found the lamp themselves. Aladdin-related clothing, baubles, toys and various doodads began appearing in the chain's stores in October -- five weeks before the animated movie's release -- and sales have been on a magic carpet ride ever since.

Debbie Bohnett, director of marketing at The Disney Store headquarters in Glendale, Calif., says the chain's 192 stores have their strongest one-two punch ever with "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin."

The "Beast" has been strong all year, Ms. Bohnett says -- an assertion that was supported this Halloween, when the streets were flooded with little girls in yellow "Belle" dresses. But with the video's release this fall, there's something there that wasn't there before in sales of "Beauty" baubles, she says.

This year Disney might be wielding an even bigger schtick.

"We think Aladdin will do even better," Ms. Bohnett said. "There really is an adult appeal with Aladdin."

That appeal is a result of Robin Williams' frenetically funny performance as the voice of the Genie. By the time this holiday season ends, that bearded wisp of wisecracking wizardry will be leering at you from everywhere and everything.

But while Ms. Bohnett allowed that "the Genie steals the show," she said, "We're seeing equal selling in all of the characters." Aladdin items have a strong appeal for boys, she says, while Princess Jasmine is showing a lot of lunch box appeal among girls. (You can expect next Halloween to look like there's been a mass breakout from a juvenile harem.)

Nobody can accuse The Disney Store of being unprepared for the Arabian onslaught. Besides an array of dolls, lamps, place mats, kiddie cups, coffee mugs, statuettes, lunch boxes and a boffo Genie nightshirt, there's also neat-o stuff such as the Electronic Jafar Cobra Staff, just like the one brandished by the evil vizier, and Aladdin's Electronic Power Sword.

For those unfortunate souls too old for swordplay, the Disney chain has a new line of clothing featuring the classic Disney villainesses of yore. You can buy tops emblazoned with Ursula the Sea Witch, Malificent, the Wicked Queen or popularity leader Cruella de Ville -- or you can buy a $42 sequined blouse picturing all four of the, er, ladies.

"That's really an adult item," she says. "A lot of women buy that for women they know."

Sfuzzi opens at Pratt and Calvert

In case you wondered, it's pronounced "foo-zee."

Sfuzzi, a new Italian restaurant that opened Tuesday, now occupies one of the most visible sites in Baltimore -- the street-level corner of the IBM building at Pratt and Calvert streets.

The Baltimore Sfuzzi is the 15th for the 5-year-old chain, which describes its concept as "casual dining in an upbeat ambience at reasonable prices." Brick-oven pizza and focacci bread will be specialties of the house.

Sfuzzi got its start in Dallas in 1987 and has been expanding to major markets from San Diego to Boston. Darryl Stupp is the general manager of the Baltimore operation, and Patrick Kearney is the executive chef.

Santa's shop at Mall is for little ones only

Even if they were allowed in, adults would find it difficult to enter Santa's Secret Shop at The Mall in Columbia. The doorways are only 5 feet high.

The store, operated by the mall management, is a "just for kidsventure that brings together an assortment of under-$10 merchandise from various mall retailers so young gift-givers can pick out presents for adults and siblings all by themselves.

Store manager Terri Schad says that when a child comes to shop, he or she is met by an adult "elf" who finds out who the customer is shopping for and how much the child can afford. Ms. Schad said the elf will also offer gentle guidance in choosing the gift, such as suggesting that a model airplane might not be the ideal choice for Mom.

After ringing up purchases, the elves help the children gift-wrap their presents.

"When they leave here, it's already gift-wrapped, the child has already done everything themselves and it's a secret," said Ms. Schad.

This is the third year the mall management has operated Santa's Secret Shop, Ms. Schad said.

Downtown meters free on weekends

The city of Baltimore has an early holiday gift for shoppers. Beginning today and continuing through Christmas, all downtown parking meters will get Saturdays and Sundays off from their coin-collecting chores.

The free-parking zones extends from Martin Luther King Boulevard on the west to President Street on the east, and from Key Highway on the South to Mount Royal Avenue on the north.

Classic Catering signs on at Savage

The Classic Catering People, one of the largest catering operations in the Baltimore area, is taking its act to Howard County.

Owings Mills-based Classic Catering has signed on as the exclusive caterer for The Great Room, a recently renovated 19th-century textile mill at Savage Mill. The Great Room can now be reserved for meetings, special events and social occasions for up to 400 people.

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