Liquidators discount chain to move here

Chain's first site is in former Caldor on Reisterstown Road

January 28, 2000|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

A Long Island, N.Y.,-based chain of discount stores plans a major push into the Baltimore-Washington region, with the first store opening this spring in a former Caldor in Baltimore.

National Wholesale Liquidators, a privately owned, family-run business, plans to open in April at Reisterstown Road Plaza. It will occupy the more than 94,000 square feet that formerly housed a Caldor.

Caldor Corp. closed the store, an anchor at the enclosed mall, after that chain went out of business early last year.

The growing National Wholesale, which now has 28 locations in the Northeast, plans to open 10 to 12 stores in the Baltimore-Washington region in the next two years, the company said.

The chain hopes to open a second Maryland store in Langley Park in a former Hechinger, but that lease must first be approved by the court handling Hechinger's bankruptcy case.

"We're excited about entering a new market," said Robert Kwiatkowski, director of real estate for National Wholesale. "It has good opportunities. It meets our criteria. We look to be in populated areas."

The chain typically opens stores in vacant retail spaces of at least 40,000 square feet, Kwiatkowski said. He could not give a number of stores planned for the Baltimore area, saying it would depend upon site availability.

"We look at all different sites," he said. "It doesn't have to be Caldor. It could be a former supermarket, a former Service Merchandise. We look at existing stores that become vacant."

National Wholesale offers a mix of brand-name discounted merchandise, including apparel, housewares, electronics, automotive supplies, furniture, cleaning supplies, food and health and beauty products.

The stores also regularly feature a revolving mix of goods purchased in manufacturer closeout deals, often items that were overproduced or discontinued.

The stores feature simple interiors with painted floors and open ceilings, with merchandise arranged by aisle. Simple store designs allow the retailer to pass additional savings to consumers, the chain said.

The Baltimore store will employ between 75 and 100 workers.

The addition of National Wholesale to Reisterstown Road Plaza will bring mall occupancy to about 96 percent, said Mark Seaman, a mall spokesman.

Other anchor stores include Burlington Coat Factory, Food King and Premier Cinema Five Movie Theaters. The mall also has a vacant Hechinger, which has not been turned over to the mall for leasing.

Adding a new anchor to the market will help generate new and repeat business, said Steven Erlanger, the mall's vice president and general manager.

"Whenever a new retailer opens in a market, customers in and out of the primary trade area come to shop, and after reviewing NWL's success in the Northeast, I am sure many of those customers will return," he said.

National Wholesale has grown from a single store in Queens, N.Y., in 1984. Last year the chain opened seven stores in Connecticut and New York.

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