Mamma ilardo's pizza signs up ContinentalThe mamma...


Mamma ilardo's pizza signs up Continental

The mamma ilardo's pizza chain, a small outfit with dreams of going big time, has taken a vital step toward expansion by lining up national and regional distributors to provide ingredients to its pizzerias.

The Owings Mills-based chain announced last week that it had chosen Continental Foods, a 60-year-old food service company based in Baltimore, as its chief provider of such items as sausage, pepperoni, cheese, flour and tomato sauce in the mid-Atlantic region.

By signing with Continental, mamma ilardo's also gains entree to EMCO Inc., a Pittsburgh-based network of 125 independent food-service companies across the United States. Continental is EMCO's local affiliate.

"We just think we're going to get a tremendous amount of opportunity available to us through a local company," said Joseph Simone, mamma ilardo's president.

The chain now has 14 units, most of them in the Washington-Baltimore area, but its plans call for it to establish a presence in 18 states within the next three years. Mr. Simone said the chain would open 32 mamma ilardo's Pizza Express locations in Fair Lanes bowling centers by Dec. 7. That's the first phase of a deal signed last week that will put the company's pizza in all 112 Fair Lanes centers by next June.

Mr. Simone said the tie-in with EMCO assures mamma ilardo's that it will be able to deliver identical ingredients to its TC franchisees across the country as it expands. "We like to make sure what product we have approved here gets put out there," he said, adding that EMCO also has distribution channels in Canada and Britain.

Joseph I. Abramson, president of Continental, said he expected the mamma ilardo's deal to account for about 5 percent to 6 percent of his company's business, which he expects to reach $70 million in sales this fiscal year.

Wal-Mart to launch store in Westminster

Wal-Mart Stores is about to take another step in its encirclement of Baltimore.

The nation's largest retailer will launch its second store in the metropolitan area Nov. 2 when it open its 116,839-square-foot store in Westminster. The Arkansas-based behemoth opened its first Baltimore-area store in Glen Burnie in July and has announced plans to go into Harford County.

Its designs on Howard County have so far been frustrated by the county Zoning Board's refusal to rezone the site it covets at U.S. 40 and 29. Wal-Mart says it's not interested in other sites in the county, but it's hard to believe such an astute retailer would write off a potentially lucrative market.

Portraits hot item at PetStuff chain

Segall-Majestic Photography, a Baltimore company with broad experience in school photography, is drawing on its experience with unruly subjects to make money in a different kind of animal house.

PetStuff, the new chain of pet supply superstores that wagged its way into the Baltimore area last month, has formed a joint venture with Segall-Majestic to mine a lucrative market in pet portraiture.

The Atlanta-based retail chain, which decided to launch its operations in Baltimore because of the region's strong animal demographics, invites pets to bring their owners into their stores to have their pictures taken (humans optional). Segall-Majestic clicks the shutters.

According to Segall-Majestic President Jess Segall, the collaboration has been a howling success. The company said that on one recent weekend it photographed more than 60 dogs, 40 cats and two parakeets at PetStuff's Towson store alone.

Besides Towson, PetStuff has stores in Catonsville and Glen Burnie. The company expects to expand into a national chain.

Childless workers lead way as shoppers

To shop or not to shop? Who, where and why were the questions.

The International Mass Retail Association commissioned a study to find out who are America's most active shoppers and what sends them scrambling for their wallets.

According to the survey, the three leading categories of shoppers were workers without children, 38 percent; workers with children, 34 percent; and retirees, 12 percent. In a sign of how times have changed, homemakers came in fourth at 10 percent.

Each group had its own priorities in deciding where to shop. Workers without children looked for convenience and selection, workers with children looked for low price and wide selection, homemakers stressed selection and cleanliness, and retirees went looking for frequent sales and good service.

Other findings: Childless workers like department stores and warehouse clubs, workers with children prefer specialty stores and discount clothing stores. Look for homemakers in discount department stores and the huge, new supermarkets called "hypermarkets." Meanwhile, the retirees will stick to the grocery stores.

Ever wonder why the mall is so dead on Monday? The survey showed it is the least preferred shopping day, favored by only 4 percent of shoppers. Saturday is first at 27 percent, followed by Friday (17 percent), Thursday (13 percent), Wednesday (12 percent), Sunday (7 percent) and Tuesday (4 percent). Fourteen percent had no preference.

Incidentally, women still carry the bulk of the shopping burden. Among the prime groups of shoppers, 73 percent were women. Among workers with children, female shoppers outnumbered men 3-to-1.

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