Annapolis Clothing Co. to shut 3 stores


Annapolis Clothing Co. Inc., trying to stay vital during the recession by downsizing, plans to close three of its seven stores.

The locally based women's apparel chain also has filed for a Chapter 11 reorganization under the Federal Bankruptcy Act.

Lawrence D. Coppel, the attorney representing Annapolis Clothing, said the chain will close its stores at Towson Market Place shopping center, St. Thomas Shopping Center in Owings Mills and Festival Plaza in Pasadena. He said the stores will be closed over the next 30 to 45 days.

Marian Cardwell, controller for the retailer, said it will have to lay off some of its 120 employees as a result of the store closings but could not say how many.

"We have no intention to go out of business. We are just re-sizing," Cardwell said yesterday.

Annapolis Clothing sells women's career clothing and leisure apparel. The chain also includes Annapolis Women, a section selling large sizes.

The stores that will remain open are located on Security Boulevard in Hechinger Square; Dobbin Center in Columbia; 8706 Belair Road; and 14 Parole Plaza in Annapolis.

"Of course, we are very sad about the situation," she said. "It's TC just that the economy is bad."

Cardwell said the chain had poor sales during November, December and January.

Coppel said sales for the fourth quarter which ended in January were off by 25 percent. "They had a very slow Christmas season, but a lot of retailers were hurt during Christmas. The problems this business has is not unique to Annapolis Clothing. We are going through a serious recession."

Coppel said Annapolis Clothing was having trouble paying its trade creditors on a timely basis so it decided to file for a Chapter 11 reorganization, which allows the chain to continue operating while it restructures its debt.

Cardwell said the chain was also faced with heavy competition. "Seven locations is just too many in this retail environment," she said.

"There has just been too much [retail] development and now we are seeing the shakeout," Coppel said.

Annapolis clothing is the most recent retail victim of the recession, joining other chains such as the 65-year-old L. Epstein and Sons Inc., which filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago. Epstein had announced in January it would liquidate its remaining stores citing adverse economic conditions and a poor retail environment.

Annapolis Clothing filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, listing assets of almost $2.3 million and debts of $1.9 million. The company's secured debt was listed at about $700,000.

More than 200 creditors were listed in the retailer's petition. Some of the largest creditors included Londontown Corp. in Eldersberg, which is owed $79,407; WMAR Channel 2 Television, with a bill of $59,588; the Baltimore Sun, $47,108; Columbia Management Inc., $26,221; and Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., $26,069.

The retailer opened in 1978 in downtown Annapolis. In 1983, a second store was opened in Columbia in the Dobbin Center. Six months later a store was opened in Towson Market Place. The Security store was opened in 1984. In 1986, the chain added three additional stores in Perry Hall, Pasadena and Owings Mills.

"I think we were overbuilt for the 1990s," Cardwell said. "I think it will be a positive move to go down to a few stores. And we will do what we can to make them more appealing."

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