Firm was recycling before it was fashionWhen you've been...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

April 17, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Firm was recycling before it was fashion

When you've been in business for decades, it's nice to discover that what you've been doing all along is now considered environmentally correct.

That's the case with ABC Box Co., a little-known company tucked away in a warehouse district on Leadenhall Street in South Baltimore. An unusual business, 57-year-old ABC acquires misprinted, overstocked or once-used boxes and resells them to individuals and small businesses at a discount.

"ABC Box Co. started protecting the environment long before recycling was fashionable," said Alan J. Fink, the former Westview Mall manager who recently became a partner in the business.

More accurately, ABC was recycling before anyone even heard of recycling. "They called it salvage, they called it junk," said Mr. Fink, who has begun pushing the environmental theme since joining the company. It's been working, he said. "We've begun to see small commercial customers use the boxes because of the environmental angle."

Mr. Fink said about 30 percent of ABC's business comes from individuals who are planning a move and have discovered that empty boxes, when bought from a moving company, are full of costs.

Alan's father, Daniel Fink, and Gerald Lerner founded the business in 1936 and still remain active in ABC, along with Mr. Lerner's son Maury.

Alan Fink said the company's founders really hadn't thought of ++ the business in environmental terms until the 1970s, when they made a short-lived effort to tie their marketing to that theme. But that was before many people had heard of recycling, so the campaign didn't get too far.

"Today in the '90s, recycling and related issues have become so mainstream we've brought it front and center in our marketing," he said.

'Neighborhood KFC' targets black locales

Kentucky Fried Chicken has adopted a new format, called Neighborhood KFC, at 27 restaurants in predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore and Washington.

The Neighborhood KFC outlets will carry several dishes not on the regular menu, including honey barbecue wings, red beans and rice, "mean greens," macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie.

In some Neighborhood KFCs, employees will wear kufi hats and kente cloth-accented --ikis. The music selections have also changed -- from typical Muzak fare to soul, rap, and rhythm and blues.

Whether the format will boost sales is uncertain. Harlow Fullwood, president of Fullwood Foods Inc., said he has adopted the menu (so far he's passed on the African-style uniforms) at his three KFC franchises in Baltimore, but that has not had an

appreciable effect on sales.

"Let's face it. In the city right now, there's a real recession," MrFullwood said. "Right now you could sell it for 50 cents apiece and you'd have a hard time selling it."

Gray Kirk, USF&G go their separate ways

One of the longest agencyclient relationships in the history of Baltimore advertising formally ended this week when USF&G Corp. selected Mergeotes, Fertitta & Weiss Inc. of New York to replace Baltimore's Gray Kirk/VanSant to handle the insurance's company's account.

USF&G had been doing business with Gray Kirk and its predecessor agencies for more than 60 years. Carolyn Bodie, a spokeswoman for Gray Kirk, said the agency declined to participate when USF&G announced it would put the account up for review several months ago.

"It wasn't an account that was particularly meaningful from a billing standpoint," Mrs. Bodie said. "We did terrific work for USF&G, but they felt they needed a change."

Mergeotes, Fertitta prevailed over several advertising agencies, including W. B. Doner & Co. of Baltimore.

Meanwhile, another Baltimore agency had some cause for celebration. Trahan Burden & Charles Inc. announced that it had won the corporate image account of Freddie Mac, the finance company that buys up home mortgages and bundles them into securities.

Visa offers manual on using credit cards

You get an owner's manual with a car, so why shouldn't you get one with your credit card, which can cost you even more money?

That's the thinking behind Visa USA Inc.'s consumer manual explaining the ins and outs of credit cards. The manual is illustrated by cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, creator of the shop-aholic comic-strip character "Cathy." The manual tends to play up the pleasant side of plastic, but there's also straightforward information on how credit cards work, how cardholders can save on interest expenses and what to do if the bills get out of hand.

To receive a copy of the manual, call (800) 847-2511.

:. It's free, so you won't have to charge it.

Unlike industrial peers,Japan's thirsty for beer

Japan is rapidly becoming the Land of the Rising Foam.

For the eighth consecutive year last year, Japanese consumers bucked the trend among industrialized countries and drank more beer than the year before, an official report said.

The report this week said beer consumption totaled 1.56 billion gallons, up 2.7 percent over the previous year.

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