'Country store' signs on at the GalleryIt isn't easy for...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

April 03, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

'Country store' signs on at the Gallery

It isn't easy for an independent start-up retailer to lasso a space at the chain-dominated Gallery at Harborplace. But cowboy enthusiast Marvin Jacobs and Cathy Jacobs Cable have done the trick.

The father-daughter team will open Jake & Jake's Country Store on the second floor of the downtown shopping palace in the next week or two. The shop, described as "an upscale, old-fashioned country store," will offer a variety of Western-oriented merchandise -- from cowboy boots to chili to books on the Old West.

The new venture marks a return to retailing for Mr. Jacobs, 65, who retired five years ago after 13 years as owner and franchiser of the Tyler's Country Clothes chain. Ms. Cable, 37, is chucking the corporate retail scene after stints with Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic.

Mr. Jacobs says the concept stems from his longtime enthusiasm for things Western.

"I grew up in a time when the cowboy was hot -- Gene Autry, Roy Rogers," he said, adding that he wears cowboy boots "exclusively."

He promises that Jake & Jake's will be "a very visual kind of a store" decorated by antiques from his own Western collection. "It's definitely not stamped out like some of the chain stores."

Mr. Jacobs says the merchandise mix will be broad but that "we're not going to saturate the market with a single item." That should lessen the chances of running into somebody at a party sporting the same "wearable art."

If the two Jakes are successful, the concept could move beyond a single store. Mr. Jacobs isn't interested so much in multiple stores as in issuing a catalog using the theme.

Mr. Jacobs says he negotiated with The Rouse Co. for more than a year before landing his 1,400-square-foot space in the Gallery.

Meanwhile, across the street at Harborplace, Rouse has added a new tenant to its lineup of fast-food restaurants. Soupmasters, a new chain that is also going into Towson Town Center, brought its soups, chilis and Tuscano Dipping Bread to the Light Street Pavilion food court on Tuesday. It's the fourth link in the Stamford, Conn.-based chain.

Tough sole-searching gets assist from Sears

Any man who wears an uncommon size -- say, 11 1/2 -EEE or -- can bear witness to the horrors of shopping for shoes.

Forget choosing among styles. All you can do is ask the clerk to bring everything the store has in that size and pick the least loathsome of the handful in stock. No wonder these folks resort to catalogs or travel extra miles to shop at Nordstrom, which prides itself on being able to shoe a sasquatch.

But now Sears is rolling out a program that will bring Florsheim special-order centers into 85 stores, including four in Maryland. The centers display 21 models of shoe and provide a catalog with more than 300 styles.

Once a customer makes a selection, the order is faxed directly to Florsheim. According to Sears, the shoes will be at the customer's doorstep within a week. The service will offer a broader range of sizes and styles than the stores themselves can stock.

The four Baltimore-area Sears stores that will offer the service are at East Point, Hunt Valley, Columbia and Cranberry malls. The centers are expected to be in place by the end of April.

Unrehearsed banter grist for car care ads

Ad agencies launch new ad campaigns all the time. It's no more news than dogs barking.

Still, every once in a while, along comes a campaign that stands out as especially imaginative. Like Gray Kirk VanSant's Jiffy Lube radio campaign, which started Monday on Baltimore radio stations.

For the 60-second spots, stand-up comedian Bill McCuddy called people on their cellular phones as they were driving and engaged them in off-the-wall, irreverent and unrehearsed conversations about car care. Snippets of those conversations -- unrehearsed, according to the agency -- were spliced together to create the commercials.

Whether the campaign will sell many oil changes remains to be seen, but the spots are funny enough to justify a temporary switch from public radio.

LTC Meanwhile, Baltimore's other agencies have hardly been sitting still:

* Cornerstone, a small but growing agency that has been quietly building its billings with out-of-town accounts, landed an important local client recently as it signed on with PaineWebber Mortgage Finance Inc. of Columbia.

The agency also added Atlanta to the list of Weight Watchers franchise groups it represents. It already represented such groups in Syracuse-Rochester, N.Y., and South Georgia/North Florida.

In the last five years, Cornerstone has grown from $3.5 million in billings to $24.3 million, according to agency spokeswoman Betsy Higham.

* Trahan, Burden & Charles' public relations division won a Silver Anvil Award this week from the Public Relations Society of America for its "Route, Route, Route for the Home Team" project, which helped educate the Baltimore public about transportation routes to Oriole Park at Camden Yards last year.

It's lights out for Moscow Nights

Say goodbye to Moscow Nights.

The Russian restaurant, which opened at 1111 Park Ave. twyears ago to glowing reviews, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation on Wednesday.

Do Svidaniya. @

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