Filene's Basement to bypass BaltimoreFilene's Basement, a...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

February 06, 1993|By Michael Dresser

Filene's Basement to bypass Baltimore

Filene's Basement, a deep-discount clothing chain whose flagship Boston store is a New England landmark, will likely skip over Baltimore and go straight to Washington in the next phase of its expansion.

"We have looked at Baltimore in the past and have had difficulty finding the right locations," said Jim Anathan, president of the Wellesley, Mass.-based retailer. He said the company wants to be in Baltimore but would likely turn its attentions to the area only after a Washington launch.

Mr. Anathan confirmed published reports that Filene's Basement is close to a deal to move into Washington, but warned that it's no sure thing. "Our entry into Washington is still speculative."

Of course, what is Washington and what is Baltimore isn't as clear-cut as it once was -- the federal government now considers both cities part of a single metropolitan area. Mr. Anathan said his company's definition of a market area is based largely on media coverage, which could bring Annapolis and Columbia within the Washington pale.

Mr. Anathan said there was no lack of desirable locations closer to Baltimore. But, he added, it is difficult to find sites where the chain can carve out 25,000 to 30,000 feet of selling space.

Retailers' hiring expected to stay flat

Retailers might sell a lot more if the economy revives in 1993, but that doesn't mean they'll hire a lot more.

A survey of 203 retail executives by Thorndike Deland Associates, a New York-based search firm, found that 78 percent expect hiring for midlevel and senior positions to stay flat or decline this year.

Thorndike Deland partner Sylvia Warren said the survey showed most retailers believe the industry faces significant problems no matter which way the economy goes. She said 46 percent of the respondents listed over-expansion as the industry's top problem.

Rather than adding staff, retail executives are emphasizing marketing. The survey showed that 73 percent of retailers are putting more stress on marketing now than in previous years.

Golf company seeks to club competition

Mammoth Custom Clubs, a fledgling Maryland company, teed off last weekend in its drive to grab a piece of the custom-design golf club business.

The company, founded last year, introduced four new product lines at the Professional Golfers Association merchandise show in Orlando, Fla.

There are two lines of oversize clubs, a line of women's standard-sized clubs and an oversize metal-wood line designed to help golfers correct a persistent slice.

The company's premium Mastodon set of four top-of-the-line persimmon woods is going on the market at a suggested retail price of $600. The same price applies to set of 12 Mastodon irons, which are 30 percent larger than traditional irons.

Slightly less expensive is the company's Sling Shot line, with three woods for $400 and eight irons for $550.

The company also added a Lady Aligner set of women's clubs to its standard-size Aligner series. The Lady Aligner clubs will cost $200 for three metal woods and $350 for eight irons.

The product of greatest interest to the average duffer might be the Oversize Hooky line of metal woods designed to compensate for a wicked slice. A three-club sets costs $350 -- but think of all the golf balls you'd save.

Mammoth, based in Columbia, manufactures the clubs in New Oxford, Pa. Last year, the company acquired Ted Sheftic Custom Clubs Inc., which produced the standard-sized Aligner and Hooky lines.

Mammoth is marketing its clubs through pro shops and sporting goods stores on the East Coast.

Two more players enter roaster wars

The roaster revolution continues.

Hot on the heels of Roy Rogers and neck-and-neck with KFC, two new carry-out restaurants are bringing their un-fried chicken to Baltimore. One has star appeal; the other has hometown roots.

The chain operation is Kenny Rogers Restaurants, which will open Monday at Woodholme Plaza in Reisterstown. The company is owned by the pop-country music star of the same name, and given the record of celebrity-theme fast-food chains, Mr. Rogers truly is "The Gambler."

The restaurant is the third Kenny Rogers franchise opened by Cornett Food Services Inc. of Culpeper, Va. The chain bills its cuisine as the fare for health conscious people who "live life in the fast lane." Go figure.

The smaller operation is Rotisseria, a new business that recently opened at 219 S. Broadway near Fells Point. Its owner is Saleh J. S. Hamshari, a Palestinian native who has waited tables in various Baltimore restaurants.

Brand-new 'Barney' out-talks predecessor

So you begged, bribed and jostled this Christmas just so you could get your toddler a stuffed Barney-the-purple-dinosaur doll?

Forget it. It's obsolete.

Playskool, which recently signed a marketing agreement with the producers of the popular Public Broadcasting Service show "Barney and His Friends," is bringing out a talking Barney. For an estimated $35, your child can hear Barney deliver hundreds of different lines.

Playskool will also be selling a Barney "Animal Keyboard," a Barney "Talking Phone" and other Barney-phernalia.

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