Harbor Holiday Inn has new managerThe Holiday Inn-Inner...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

June 15, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Harbor Holiday Inn has new manager

The Holiday Inn-Inner Harbor is betting on a new general manager fresh out of Reno, Nev.

Kent Bruggeman, former general manager of the Holiday Inn & Monte Carlo Casino in Reno, will take over a hotel that is on the upswing following a $6.3 million renovation completed early this year.

For most of the 1980s, the Holiday Inn was allowed to deteriorate, largely scraping by on cut-rate package deals with tour bus companies. Now the hotel has changed its strategic direction and is going after a share of the more lucrative corporate travel market.

According to Winegardner & Hammons Inc., the Cincinnati-based company that took over the management of the property in 1991, Mr. Bruggeman had a strong record of bringing corporate business to his former hotel in Reno.

As selling points, the new manager can point to a new exercise room, the largest indoor pool in Baltimore and renovated guest rooms and common areas.

With Camden Yards full for virtually every Orioles home game and an expanded Convention Center on its way, the formerly rundown hotel may not be such a crap shoot after all.

Area supermarkets in expansion mode

Mars Supermarkets Inc., the Baltimore-area's sixth-largest grocery chain in terms of sales, will venture into new territory tomorrow as it opens its first store in Harford County.

The new store, in the Aberdeen Marketplace on Route 22, will be the chain's 12th. The 42,000-square-foot store will have about 95 employees.

Mars' Aberdeen incursion represents a direct challenge to Klein's Super Thrift, the market leader in Harford County. Klein's has a store in nearby Beards Hill Plaza.

Mars isn't the only local grocery chain in an expansion mode. Giant Food Inc. opened its 156th store last week in Upper Marlboro.

Meanwhile, the Columbia-based trade publication Food World reports that Super Rite Corp. has acquired a parcel at York and Padonia roads in Timonium and will build a new Metro Food Market on the site.

Super Rite also is converting two Basics stores to the Metro concept -- one on Liberty Road and the other on U.S. 40 west.

National Lumber doubles in size

National Lumber Co., a family-owned home improvement retailer that has been doing business in Baltimore since 1919, recently completed an expansion and renovation of its building at 4901 Pulaski Highway.

The expansion takes the business from 4,500 square feet to 9,000 square feet, said Vice President Arnold Fruman. Among the new product lines: tool and equipment rental; pneumatic tool fasteners; contractors' power tools; ceramic and quarry tile; and paint and wallpaper.

New services will include glass-cutting, key-cutting and deck and kitchen design, Mr. Fruman said.

Analyst touts changes at Circuit City

Circuit City is making some changes that are increasing its appeal as an investment, reports Kenneth M. Gassman Jr., the retail analyst for Davenport & Co. of Virginia Inc.

To streamline the purchasing procedure, Circuit City is eliminating the system that forced customers to go to a central checkout desk to make a purchase. Now, salespeople will be able to handle the entire transaction, Mr. Gassman said.

The company is also instituting a telephone hot line called "Answer City" so that customers can call with questions about products they have bought at Circuit City. The company expects this service to cut returns by customers who are befuddled by confusing instruction manuals, Mr. Gassman said.

Meanwhile, the chain plans to open two test stores that will be one-third to one-half the size of a typical Circuit City superstore.

These scaled-down stores will be in small but potentially lucrative markets that can't support a larger store. The company also will rename its mall-based Impulse stores Circuit City Express -- the better to capitalize on the strength of the Circuit City name.

Mr. Gassman, who sees all these developments as positive for the company, is recommending Circuit City stock even though it is trading near the top of its 52-week range.

New VCR programmer gives you the last word

At last, there may be relief for people who consider programming a VCR an insidious form of electronic torture.

Voice Powered Technology International Inc., a Canoga Park, Calif.-based company, said yesterday that it has signed an agreement with Philips Consumer Electronics Inc. to sell a device that lets the user program a video cassette recorder by voice.

The company said its VCR Voice Programmer will be sold through retail stores in the United States and Canada under the Magnavox brand name. The suggested retail price: $149.95.

Voice Powered Technology said that "the decision to expand the product through retail channels was motivated by the interest in the VCR Voice Programmer demonstrated by major retailers."

Philips, a Dutch company, manufactures and distributes electronics goods under the Magnavox and Philips brand names. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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