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Reisterstown: Holiday season greets retail openings and closings

My best wishes to all as we enter what is termed the "most wonderful time of the year." It's also the time of the year when nonprofit organizations are begging for your dollars and we are reminded of those who are in need of some of life's basic needs: food, clothing and shelter.

Shop manager of Tina's on Main Street, Lynne Waranch is sharing the joy of the season in welcoming the birth of her new grandson, Lucas Gabriel Hermann, born to daughter Emily and son-in-law Victor. Son Mike Waranch is newly engaged to future daughter-in-law Megan Carniewski.

We send our best wishes to her husband, Larry Waranch, who came through his recent knee surgery with flying colors.

Not out there "decking the halls" are the employees of the six Fashion Bug stores throughout Maryland and those nationwide. All locations are slated to close by the end of the year, including the one in Reisterstown.

What began as Charming Shoppes in the 1940s in Philadelphia grew to become re-branded as Fashion Bug as they added outlets in suburban strip shopping centers. In the 1970s, they became a publicly traded company and were among the first in the retail industry to have computerized registers, pioneering the use of point-of-sale. Rapid expansion continued well into the 1990s. .

Entering the 21st century, Charming Shoppes went on to acquire 433 stores of the Memphis-based chain Catherine's, quickly followed by the acquisition of the No. 1 plus size specialty apparel provider, Lane Bryant, with 651 stores.

In 2004, Charming Shoppes launched e-commerce at fashionbug.com along with catherines.com which was the first online retailer, and acquired Crosstown Traders, a direct marketer of woman's apparel, footwear, accessories and specialty gifts. They went on to acquire the leases of 75 Casual Corner Annex..

But by 2008, the tide had turned for Charming Shoppes as well as many others in retail.

In June of this year Charming Shoppes was acquired by Ascena Retail Group, Inc., the parent company of DressBarn. Combined, they operate 3,800 brick-and-mortar locations, as well as catalogs and online sites, of which Fashion Bug will become a memory. A sad end to a glorious ride.

On a more positive note, Stone Mill Bakery is expanding with a second eatery in Stevenson Village, in the space once occupied by Coffee with T. Plans are to be up and running the week prior to Christmas with brunch in the new upstairs dining room, and a barbecue pit in the parking lot.

Tonino's Restaurant owner Jesse Issa and a crew have been hard at work repairing what was once Memphis on Main. Jesse says that the (restaurant) business is for a "younger man", and that once the renovations are complete, he plans to lease the building out.

This first weekend in this holiday-laden month of December saw a lot of related activities, and townspeople out participating in them.

The train garden at the Glyndon Volunteer Fire Department is up and running through the start of the New Year. Volunteer Fireman Scot Warner has once again worked his magic, adding among the attractions, an underwater train that runs through an aquarium. Scott says he had more than 600 visitors on Saturday, Dec.1, surpassing last years' attendance.

The Glyndonites were also out and about on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Candlelight House Tour hosted by the Glyndon Community Association. They too had a record turnout of more than 600 with proceeds from the event again going to the refurbishment of their street signage.

And on Sunday, Dec. 2, Reisterstown United Methodist Church held the annual lighting of what is the community Christmas tree on the front lawn of their 1868 sanctuary, which was preceded by a potluck supper.

As of Nov. 1, Hannah More School has become a part of the ever-growing Shepherd Pratt Health System. In a statement from President and CEO Mark Waldman he noted that "This is a wonderfully exciting opportunity for Hannah More, and with the resources available to us through Shepherd Pratt, we will be able to strengthen the breadth and depth of services we offer to our students, allowing us to continue to provide the high quality of service we have delivered over the past 35 years."

With the addition of the four Hannah More School locations, Shepherd Pratt will now operate 16 nonpublic special education schools for children and adolescents with emotional disabilities or autism. Shepherd Pratt remains Maryland's largest provider of mental health and therapeutic special education services.

While this merger then negates the need for a Hannah More Board of Directors, it should be noted that the Financial Board remains in place to continue its fundraising efforts for the school. All monies raised by Hannah More for Hannah More will continue to directly benefit this organization, as will all previous monies raised to this effort.

David Golaner, executive director of the Edward A. Myerberg Senior Center, wants to broaden its scope and appeal. As such, the center is now named the Myerberg Center.

He plans to court the community at large with events held off-premise, such as their annual fundraiser. He is also entertaining the prospect of extending the center's hours, as well as community outreach in bringing programming to interested parties.

Golaner assumed the position back in July, replacing Arnold Eppel who stepped in upon the retirement of longtime Executive Director Linda Trope.

May the holidays bring to you a full house with a full table and full hearts.

Look for my next column on Jan. 10, 2013 as we begin the New Year together.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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