New shopping mecca draws the faithful Opening: Lord & Taylor has a new store in White Marsh Mall, its 65th and Baltimore's first.

September 17, 1998|By Judith Forman | Judith Forman,SUN STAFF

At 5 minutes to 9 yesterday morning, Ann Nesteruk was ready to shop.

Dressed in a purple and white striped shirt, matching purple pants and white sneakers, the 69-year-old retired medical technician from Baltimore had just finished her almost daily walk around White Marsh Mall -- timed to finish with the grand opening of Lord & Taylor's 65th store and Baltimore's first.

"I want to see if it's going to take the place of Woody's, which was my favorite," Nesteruk said, referring to Woodward Lothrop, which used to be located in what is now Lord & Taylor. "I'm here to look and if I see something, I will buy. I'm going to the petites department first to get my charge card."

As she leaned back on the banister outside the store's second-floor entrance waiting with the small crowd that had gathered, Nesteruk knew what she didn't want to buy.

"I was in New York over the weekend and there was an awful lot of black up there," she said. "That doesn't suit me."

She was in luck. The 120,000-square-foot, two-level store is full of color -- suits, dresses, hats, sweaters, pants, lipsticks and even Christmas ornaments in every shade of the rainbow.

Baltimore, meet Lord & Taylor. The 172-year-old specialty store known as "America's Dress Address" joins the ranks of Nordstrom's, Macy's and Hecht's as one of the city's shopping sensations.

And the introduction goes beyond White Marsh: The company will open a store in Annapolis Mall on Sept. 30 and in Owings Mills Town Center and The Mall in Columbia in early November.

Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Liz Claiborne, Ralph Lauren, Estee Lauder and Donna Karan are the biggest names to grace the racks.

Although the store is bright and roomy, don't be expecting too much snazz. Lord & Taylor saves that for its biggest outlets -- on New York's Fifth Avenue and in posh Westchester County.

And if you're looking for Baltimore-themed merchandise, stay in the Inner Harbor. The only local item you'll find here is a Baltimore version of Monopoly for $24.95.

Lord & Taylor is in the same department-store tier as Bloomingdale's and Macy's, slightly lower than Nordstrom's and above Sears and JCPenney, according to Wayne Hood, a Prudential Securities analyst who studies Lord & Taylor's parent, May Co.

As customers entered the store, they were greeted by leggy models offering them the Lord & Taylor signature emblem: a long-stemmed red rose. And, of course, they had the opportunity to sign up right then and there for a store charge card.

At 20 minutes past 9, Brenda Jackson, 39, already had her arms full of suits, pants and dresses.

"I went to another [Lord & Taylor] department store last night in Rockville and I had my eye on some things," said the Laurel resident who works as a government administrator in Baltimore.

Asked what time she was expected at work, Jackson laughed and said "8 a.m."

But she explained that she took a little leave to check out the store, which is on the way to her office.

Over by the DKNY clothing, Sheila Lockhart was fingering tops and matching pants.

"I love to shop and I love Lord & Taylor," said the 36-year-old accountant from Aberdeen. "I'm so happy it's close now. I usually go to Delaware ... I've been waiting for this day."

A little bit later in the morning, Amon and Carolyn Burgee of Timonium stood by the fine-jewelry counter.

Carolyn had just picked out a sapphire and diamond wedding band as a gift for their 46th anniversary Sept. 24.

"We were anticipating the opening of the store and wanted to be here today," said Amon, who will turn 69 on his anniversary and is a retired employee of the state department of education.

"This is my favorite mall, there is a good combination of stores here," he said.

At the next jewelry counter was what seemed to be the store's priciest purchase -- a $32,400 pair of 18-carat gold and 6.4-carat diamond earrings.

Perhaps the honor for the cheapest item went to the miniature Lord & Taylor shopping-bag Christmas tree ornament, $3.50.

Though it was just nine days after Labor Day, and just under 100 shopping days until Christmas, the store was decorated with 10 trees, all lit and trimmed, ornaments, snow globes and Santa Claus dolls dancing and wiggling in tune with "Jingle Bell Rock." The early festoonery seemed not to annoy anyone.

"I love Christmas," said Rhonda Utz, 37, who was shopping near the trees with her sons Tyler, 3, and Garrett, 16 months, and her Forest Hill neighbor Nonie Czajka, 46. "I love to see it year-round."

Utz, who was on the hunt for household goods, stood by her double stroller as Czajka checked out the nutcrackers for sale.

The boys entertained themselves with the roses, swinging them like bats and pulling out all the petals.

"I usually take them shopping," she said. "They've been shopping since they were born."

In the kids department, Megan Farmer was having the time of her life as she danced, hugged and jumped on the costumed Arthur the Aardvark, the TV and book character, who was on hand to meet and greet children.

"This is why I came," said Cathy Pielert of Essex, motioning to her 4-year-old granddaughter. "Because she loves Arthur."

As Megan relentlessly kissed, pounded on and boogied with Arthur, her grandmother snapped pictures.

"He's pretty cool," Megan said. "I like him so much."

"I hope we get to leave here," her grandmother replied, smiling.

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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