Tom Hawley, 67, stood patiently on a line of more than 100 people in the bedding section at Boscov's department store Friday afternoon.
He wasn't there to buy a mattress, but to be issued a Boscov's credit card that he signed up for when he first got to the store in White Marsh Mall.
Hawley, the organist at Timonium Methodist Church and a resident of Patterson Park, had never heard of Boscov's until a church member told him about the new store opening this week.
"I didn't know it existed," Hawley said. But he liked the idea of getting a 15 percent discount and since he was on his way home from the church, where an organ restoration project is under way, he decided to stop off at White Marsh.
Also on line were Andrea Vanko, 47, of Mount Washington, and her mother, Dottie Vanko, of Glen Arm in northern Baltimore County. Unlike Hawley, they knew Boscov's well, having shopped there in the same space that Boscov's used to have when it first opened a White Marsh store in 2006. The previous store closed in August 2008 after Boscov's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — from which it has since emerged.
"This has always been my favorite store," Dottie Vanko said. And her daughter remembered buying a dress there that she wore to her 10-year anniversary party as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines.
"I'll come out here quite often," Andrea Vanko said. She said she admires "the culture" of Boscov's, which stresses service and low prices, because that's the same culture Southwest Airlines has.
"It's about doing the right thing for the customer," she said.
Friday was not the official grand opening; that will come Sunday. But Friday was "gala preview day," a benefit for 91 area charities that will reap the proceeds from $5 tickets donated by Boscov's and sold by representatives of the charities.
People came from around the region and as far away as Joppa and Pikeville to shop, support their favorite charities or participate in other ways.
Tom Chalkley, an illustrator from Lauraville in Baltimore City, was drawing caricatures of people who lined up.
Friends Linda Petrush, Betty Barton and Ellen Willard mixed business with pleasure, browsing the store and supporting one of the charities, the Boy Scouts of America. They sold tickets the week before in the food court of the mall.
"We're all thrilled that (Boscov's) is back," said Barton, of nearby Perry Hall. "We missed it."
The Boscov's store, the only one in the Baltimore area, is expected to "add to the critical mass of the mall," said Boscov's Vice Chairman Jim Boscov. He said Boscov's did extensive renovations to the building and is focusing on "honest pricing" and customer service to attract people regionwide.
The company plans to open one store a year, the next one in New Jersey next summer, Boscov said. He said no stores in Maryland are planned for now, but, "we'll see as opportunities come up."
Boscov's has 41 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, Boscov said.