London Fog opens outlet store in corner of Eldersburg plant

July 11, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

The merchandise may be obsolete, but the quality is good and the bargains are better at the London Fog outlet store in Eldersburg. The outerwear manufacturer is certain its inventory leftovers will be a boon to persevering shoppers.

London Fog opened the retail store in a corner of its 500,000-square-foot plant Saturday.

"From the customer's perspective, there are great values," said Walt Brown, vice president for distribution at the plant, which is also London Fog's corporate headquarters. "It could be a real treasure hunt that customers should visit often."

In the 3,000-square-foot space, customers will find coats and jackets for men, women and children in sizes to fit the smallest to the tallest. Markdowns, now 50 percent or more, will continue until the items are sold. The store is restocked weekly.

For the time being, the store is not advertising.

"We are looking forward to crowds," said Cheryl A. Cucco, director of human resources. "But we are relying on word of mouth and our mailing list."

Those lists often draw crowds of hundreds willing to wait in long lines to get into annual sales at the warehouse. The new store is a departure from the London Fog factory outlets in Lancaster, Pa., and Hancock, Md., said Mr. Brown.

"The other outlets don't want these products because of random colors and sizes," he said.

The purpose of the store is to dispose of obsolete inventories, seconds and retail customer returns, he said. Merchandise includes discontinued models, samples and broken stock colors and sizes.

"We are not going to retain merchandise here," said Mr. Brown. "Our intent is to dispose of it, to turn it over quickly."

Roz Moran, store manager, points to hundreds of tags with markdowns printed below suggested retail prices.

"If you see something you like, you better buy it," she said. "It is not like we will get another."

Although she has not set a schedule, Ms. Moran plans to lower prices further on items which do not move immediately.

"Everything is 50 percent off or better," said Ms. Moran.

London Fog discontinued its leather and wool coats operation, but such items fill a few racks in the new store. A display near the entrance has $500 leather coats selling for $99.

"Once these are gone, that is it," said Ms. Moran. "London Fog has gone back to basics, to the products it is known for."

The store stocks sizes from petite and regular to half-sizes for women; regular, tall and extra large for men and toddler through size 18 for children.

"We are set up so customers don't have to root," said Ms. Moran, who said her staff of seven has created a shopper-friendly atmosphere. "What you see is all there is."

The best buys may be in the damaged-goods section, she said. Yellow tags denote the flaws in each piece. In a preview sale for employees last week, Ms. Moran said, customers "went crazy in this section."

All sales are final. "This is the end, and we don't want to see it back here," she said.

The outlet is another part of the manufacturer's continuing commitment to its Eldersburg location, said Ms. Cucco.

"We located it here for a purpose and put it together with our warehouse and distribution," said Mr. Brown. "The store is actually an extension of what is going on beyond its walls."

Area charities can also expect a boon from the store, said Ms. Cucco. "We get tons of requests of coats for the needy," she said. "Now, we have a mechanism to keep the flow going."

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

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