Hooters bringing out series of trading cardsParents whose...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

January 30, 1993|By Michael Dresser

Hooters bringing out series of trading cards

Parents whose sons are obsessed with collecting baseball cards can only hope they stay that way. Consider the alternative.

Star International Inc., a leading trading card company in Boca Raton, Fla., is bringing out a series of cards celebrating the women who work for Hooters of America, a chain of more than 100 restaurants whose name has nothing to do with owls.

According to Star, each of the 100 cards displays a full-color photo of a Hooters calendar girl on the front and "full biographical information" on the back. The cards will be sold in packs of nine at all Hooters restaurants and other trading card outlets.

Star President Robert S. Levin said the cards would show no nudity, just attractive women in bikinis, T-shirts or other flattering apparel. "They're very tastefully done, though they're not for everyone, of course," Mr. Levin said.

Whether the cards will ever achieve the collectible status of a 1951 Willie Mays card is questionable. However, Mr. Levin said, "I can guarantee you that each of these girls is more attractive than Willie Mays." (But can they run, field and hit with power?)

Mr. Levin said all of the women on the cards are actual Hooters employees, although none of the staff at the chain's Harborplace restaurant made the cut. "The photography just wasn't usable. It was too dark," he said.

The recommended price is 89 cents a pack. Sorry, no gum.

Company rents vans for disabled travelers

Wheelchair users in the Baltimore-Washington area have a new way to get around.

Craig Killman and Douglas A. Patterson have become regional franchisees for Wheelchair Getaways, a chain that rents customized vans for disabled travelers. Their Jarrettsville-based business, which opened last month, serves Northern Virginia, Washington and all of Maryland except the Eastern Shore.

Each Wheelchair Getaways van is equipped with a hydraulic lift, raised roof and tie-down system. The vans, which can accommodate two wheelchairs, rent for $85 a day, including insurance.

Mr. Killman said he and his partner discovered a need for such a service while running their other business, Eagle Transportation Systems Inc., which provides rides for the elderly and disabled. They decided that joining the Newtown, Pa.-based Wheelchair Getaways chain would help provide name recognition and national advertising. Wheelchair Getaways has 32 locations in 21 states nationwide.

Mr. Killman said the service has received a strong response from customers, including visitors to Washington who wanted to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to take part in inauguration festivities.

So far, the local franchise has one van for rent, with another on the way, but Mr. Killman sees the potential for a lot more business. "I'd like to see six vehicles at least," he said.

The business' telephone number is (800) 438-8465.

Pro baseball a hit with corporations

The Orioles and other professional baseball teams are a hit in corporate America.

Pro baseball remains the sport of choice among corporate sponsors, with 450 U.S. and international companies underwriting major and minor league teams, according to the Sports Sponsor FactBook.

The book, published by the Chicago-based trade publication Team Marketing Report, lists pro basketball as second, with 402 sponsors, and pro football third, with 280.

"More than likely, baseball's popularity with corporations will not change," said publisher Alan Friedman, explaining that baseball is under pressure to find more corporate sponsors as network TV revenues fall and salaries escalate.

Among the sponsors listed in the fact book are such predictable players as Miller Brewing Co. and AT&T, but there are some sponsors that are less obvious. For instance, the Grateful Dead, a fair-sized music business for the last 20 years, sponsored the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic Team.

Rounding out the top 10 sports were pro hockey (253), college sports (205), auto sports (180), golf (141), the Olympics (130), tennis (90) and state games (76).

Lil' Miss Coppertone contest to be held

Little Miss Coppertone, the bare-bottomed toddler with the cheeky dog and deep tan, turns 40 this year. And the suntan lotion's maker, Schering-Plough, isn't about to let a good marketing opportunity go to waste.

The company is staging a national search for a Little Miss Coppertone for the 1990s, and for equal opportunity's sake it will choose a Little Mr. Coppertone as well. Twenty finalists will be chosen through a photo and essay contest, and they will vie for the grand prizes during a four-day vacation in June at Walt Disney World.

The chosen Miss and Mr. Coppertone will appear in an ad for the product. Application forms will be available at Coppertone product displays in retail stores.

Home Depot opens a store in Carney

Home Depot's inexorable march continues.

The Atlanta-based home improvement "category killer" further encircled Baltimore this week as it opened its fourth area store at 1971 E. Joppa Road in Carney.

The opening will set off a royal retail tussle, since Hechinger Co. has a recently renovated Home Projects Center just across Joppa Road from the new store.

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