Family Funjungle grows in size, funWith the debut of its...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

June 29, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Family Funjungle grows in size, fun

With the debut of its Perry Hall location last month, Family Funjungle has made the transition from "store" to "superstore."

The 22,000-square-foot Perry Hall Funjungle, which opened May 29 in a former supermarket, is about 2 1/2 times the size of the original Family Funjungle, which opened last year at the Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City, according to Jeffrey Pechter, president of the indoor entertainment center company.

The Perry Hall center had added a number of attractions to the concept originated in Ellicott City, including bumper cars, expanded food service, a "virtual reality" playroom, a bouncing pad with a giant inflated dinosaur and a water-squirting firefighter game. There is also an adult reading room where parents can escape the din.

Mr. Pechter said the entertainment centers have been designed to provide a physically challenging environment in which children will get a lot of exercise.

"A lot of people go into the children's business really underestimating the mental and physical abilities of small children," he said.

Family Funjungle is owned by JHP Development, a family real estate development business based in Towson. Founded as a residential developer in 1959 by Jack Pechter, who still serves as its president, JHP expanded to shopping center development in 1981.

JHP bought the old Enchanted Forest amusement park in 1986 with the idea of renovating it and adding a neighborhood shopping center to the site. Mr. Pechter said the idea behind the original Funjungle was to "extend the life of the Enchanted Forest to year-round."

Meanwhile, JHP is also expanding the original Family Funjungle, which will double in size from about 8,000 square feet to 16,000 square feet, Mr. Pechter said.

Mr. Pechter said the success of the first Family Funjungle has brought a flood of inquiries from people interested in becoming investors or franchisees.

"We're not interested in selling any franchises at this time. We want to refine our concept and keep full control of it," said Mr. Pechter. "For future expansion, I would consider investors."

Cheerios are getting bent out of shape

Is it brilliant marketing or wretched Xes?

Consumers can decide for themselves next month when General Mills begins adding X-shaped cereal to Cheerios.

No kidding -- Cheeri-Xes among the Cheerios. After 50 years of unwavering roundness, one of America's most hallowed brands is getting bent out of shape. Not only that, but the cereal giant is also encouraging kids to play with their food.

From July through September, the familiar 20-ounce yellow Cheerios box will change. Gone will be the familiar large cereal bowl and in its place will be a tic-tac-toe grid. The back panel of the box will become a detachable game board, in four different versions.

One, of course, will be tic-tac-toe.

According to General Mills, the change is a kind of summertime lark. In a press release, the company said it decided the idea would be fun for children. Whether General Mills thought it would be fun for parents was not addressed.

Traditionalists can take comfort in General Mills' assurance that the change will not be permanent. Come October, the company said, Cheerios will be back in the loop, X-rated no more.

New Baltimore map to be available soon

Visitors to Baltimore may find it just a little easier to navigate their way around town this year with the help of a new city map published by Owens-Smith & Associates and MAP Baltimore Inc.

The new "Baltimore Area Map and Visitor Guide" will be distributed free through such outlets as hotels and tourism information centers. Owens-Smith & Associates estimated that 1 million copies of the map will be distributed this year.

The map is supported by advertising -- most of which is placed around the margins. However, residents of certain residential areas, such as Hamilton, might be disconcerted to see parts of their neighborhoods covered by inset ads. And anyone who's in town to visit the Maryland School for the Blind is out of luck. It is covered by an ad for Baltimore trolleys.

Budget clothing stores multiply in Columbia

A battle of budget clothing store chains is brewing in Columbia.

Marshall's, a large discount department store chain operated by Melville Corp., will move into a 36,000-square-foot space in the new Snowden Square retail center this fall, the real estate firm KLNB Inc. announced yesterday. That sets up a head-to-head struggle with Upton's, an Atlanta-based chain that is moving into the former Hechinger store at nearby Dobbin Center.

The two newcomers will be vying with a Ross Dress-for-Less store that opened last year next to Dobbin Center. The result is that Columbians, who up until recently had few in-town discount clothes-buying choices besides Kmart, are going to have a wealth of off-price options.

Also coming to Snowden Square this fall will be Bed, Bath and XTC Beyond, a fast-growing chain of "superstores" dealing in kitchenware and home furnishings. The store will occupy 30,000 square feet at Snowden Square, which made its debut last weekend with the opening of a B.J.'s Wholesale Club.

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