Barbeques Galore opens today at the Avenue White Marsh store first of eight planned for area

May 23, 1998|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Barbeques Galore, a California-based retailer specializing in grills and accessories, is expanding into the Baltimore-Washington region with eight stores planned by the end of the year.

The first Baltimore-area store opens today at the Avenue at White Marsh. Others are coming to Towson Marketplace by late summer and Columbia Crossing by late fall.

The 5,000-square-foot outlets, typically part of power centers with superstores, sell barbecue grills, smokers, sauces and fireside products.

The retailer, based in Irvine, Calif., runs 46 stores in nine states, with another 78 locations in Australia.

It plans to open 20 stores this year in the United States, primarily in high-growth, suburban areas, then 15 to 20 stores a year for the next three years.

"The barbecue market is growing," said Mike Varley, vice president of merchandising. "And the market is trending toward the high end," with consumers willing to spend as much as $2,000 to $4,000 on grills.

Two more stores are opening this week in Fairfax and Sterling, both in Northern Virginia, with others coming to Gaithersburg, Fredericksburg, Va., and Springfield, Va., by late fall.

Further expansion in the Baltimore region is likely. The chain envisions four or five more stores in Maryland eventually, Varley said.

"There's nobody in the market that competes directly with them on everything," said M. John Meyer of KLNB Inc., the Towson brokerage firm handling site selection for the retailer.

The nearly 20-year-old company describes itself as the nation's largest chain of barbecue stores.

It says its growth has been fueled by increased popularity of gas grills and at-home entertaining, with more consumers making their back yards extensions of their homes. Same-store sales rose 20 percent last year, and the chain projects $55 million in sales this year, Varley said.

The chain, which went public last year, guarantees it will beat competitors' prices on name-brand gas and charcoal grills, roasters, smoke boxes, skewers, tool sets and rotisseries. It also sells more than 100 types of sauces, marinades and dry spices.

In the winter, the chain will focus on stoves and fireplace accessories.

Pub Date: 5/23/98

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