Clarksville aquifer water to be sold in 10 Giant Food stores

June 16, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Giant Food has decided to test how well spring water drawn from beneath a Clarksville farm sells in 10 of its stores.

The water bottled and marketed under the Taro Spring Water brand name began showing up on select Giant stores this week, said Robin Keren, gourmet food buyer for the chain.

"We think it will have the appeal to our upscale customers, particularly in the Ellicott City area because its a local water," said Ms. Keren.

She said it was uncertain how long Giant would track sales of the water, to be carried in one-liter bottles only.

Taro water is packaged in distinctive lucid, squarish bottles, and bottled and marketed by the Brick House Spring Water Co.

The company also bottles the spring water under the Brick House Farm brand name. The only difference between the two brands is packaging.

The water's source is a large aquifer called the Cockeysville Marble Aquifer which runs under a former horse farm located off Sheppard Lane in Howard County.

The company's founder, Thomas Taro, purchased the property in 1979. He founded the company in 1990.

Mark Bersbach, sales manager at Brick House Farm, said the company is hopeful its Taro brand sells well in Giant's stores.

"The potential to expand within Giant is immense," said Mr. Bersbach. "Having the number one [grocery] chain in Maryland carrying our water is exciting. It moves our company to a higher level of credibility, which will be helpful in other areas of business," said Mr. Bersbach.

Mr. Bersbach said the company has been trying to interest Giant in carrying its product for some time, and thought the kudos the water recently received in an international water tasting contest conducted in February helped its pitch.

In the bottled, nonsparkling water category, Brickhouse Farm Water was awarded first place at the fourth annual Winter Festival of Waters in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., in February.

The 3-year-old company projects $6 million in revenue by 1995, which would make it one of the best-selling spring waters drawn from a Maryland aquifer or well.

The Taro water will be stocked in the spring water section of Giant stores that carry gourmet food items. It will compete for sales with about five other gourmet waters carried by Giant, said Ms. Keren.

Taro's bottling company hopes to gain an edge with Maryland customers by applying "Maryland/Made With Pride" stickers to the product shipped to Giant.

The 10 test stores include Giants in the Chatham Mall shopping center and Dorsey Search Village Center in Ellicott City and in the Hickory Ridge Village Center in Columbia.

Other stores where Giant will stock the product include Cockeysville, Rockville, and Baileys Crossroads, said Ms. Keren.

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