Despite snow, shoppers line up at reopening of former C-Mart

Harford Co. retailer came back as The Big TARP Company Store

February 03, 2010|By Andrea K. Walker |

Snow may have delayed school openings, but it didn't stop a few hundred people from lining up Wednesday for big deals on flat screen televisions and Vera Bradley purses at the grand reopening of the Harford County retailer formerly known as C-Mart.

The first shoppers began showing up around 7 a.m. and nearly 300 people were in line when the doors opened at 10 a.m., said Keith Silberg, who brought the old C-Mart back, though under a different name, more than a year from when it went out of business.

The Big TARP Company Store, as the new store is called, reopened at the original C-Mart building on Rock Spring Road in Forest Hill. Silberg's uncle and father opened C-Mart in the 1970s and over the years it gained a large following as a no-frills store with deals on high-end goods.

Silberg said he was a little worried that people wouldn't come because of Tuesday night's snowstorm. But they came and bought all the televisions in 20 minutes and the Vera Bradley handbags in a couple of hours.

Silberg said the store made enough money to buy another truck load of goods for next week..

"I was very nervous this morning because of the weather," Silberg said. "But the people who have shopped here for so many years came back as much to catch up with old friends and employees as they did to shop."

C-Mart shut down in 2008 after failed attempts by new owners to modernize in a bad economy. Silberg first opened a flea market and auction at the site last year. He decided to bring the store back when old business contacts kept calling him with merchandise to sell. C-Mart would buy from insurance company salvage lots, which collect items from stores trying to get rid of damaged goods, as well as sample sales and liquidations.

Silberg changed the name of the store because his family no longer had legal rights to the C-Mart name. The Big TARP Company store is named after the federal government stimulus program designed to bail out big banks at the height of the recession.

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