Starbucks opening perks up airportForget Southwest Airlines....


Starbucks opening perks up airport

Forget Southwest Airlines. Baltimore-Washington International Airport has landed a tenant that'll really wake you up.

Starbucks Corp., the Seattle-based coffee legend, has opened its first Baltimore-area coffee bar and retail shop in Host International's new B&W; Marketplace, a 2,100-square-foot store that opened recently behind the American Airlines ticket counter on the upper level of the terminal near Pier C.

The shop-within-a-shop is the first airport location on the East Coast for Starbucks, whose fanatical approach to coffee freshness reflects the obsession of its native city. Starbucks, which started out with seven stores in 1987, early this month had 227, plus a thriving mail-order business. Starbucks stock is listed on the Nasdaq exchange and closed yesterday at $49 a share.

The BWI Starbucks, which opened July 10 with so little fanfare you have to wonder about who's minding the store at the airport, has been doing heavy business, says Jack Bracken, general manager of Host operations at BWI Airport. Host, which operates Starbucks units in airports under a licensing agreement, is a subsidiary of Marriott Corp.

According to Mr. Bracken, Starbucks imposes strict rules under which coffee must be sold quickly or not sold at all.

"Every bag has an expiration on it," he said. The latest use-by date on the shipment received July 2 was July 27, he adds. And coffee that has been ground can be held for only three days.

Starbucks has seven stores in the Washington area, with plans for another in Rockville, says company spokeswoman Laura Moix. Plans for expansion in Baltimore are still brewing, she adds.

Starbucks is not the only new venture at BWI. The B&W; Marketplace, Host's first multiconcept store, also includes Skyline Sweets, a bulk candy shop; Bay Point, a regional food and gift shop; and All Around Sports, which sells professional and college sports accessories and memorabilia.

Towson Town Center occupancy on the rise

Occupancy at Towson Town Center, thriving since a 1991 renovation brought winged frog statuary to its common areas, is hopping toward a full house.

Between now and October, seven stores will open at the mall, and two others will open in larger quarters, raising Towson Town's occupancy level to 94 percent.

The most unusual of the stores, Select Comfort, is scheduled to open Friday on Level 3. The store sells mattresses and bedding, hardly typical for a mall location.

Naturally, Select Comfort says it's not an ordinary

mattress-monger. It touts its Air Sleep System as a high-tech snooze, with dual air chamber systems that will let one half of a couple choose a rock-hard surface while the other sinks into the springs. Could this be a cure for the scourge of separate beds?

Others on the way:

* Laura Ashley, the home of old-timey prints in clothing and home decorating lines, ascends to the top-of-the-heap fourth level this month.

* Alex & Ivy, a Bombay Co. division that sells French country furniture and decorating designs, makes its Baltimore-area debut Level 2 in August.

* California Closets, carrying all sorts of organizing tools to turn Fibber McGee into Felix Unger, will be coming out in September on Level 1.

* Chesapeake Knife & Tool, a Columbia-based company that's a familiar sight at local malls, cuts the ribbon in September on Level 1.

* The Franklin Mint Gallery, where collectors go after they die if they've been good, opens on Level 4 in October -- in mint condition, no doubt.

* Company 9, a division of the Nine West women's shoe store chain, steps up to Level 4 in September.

The expanding stores are Square Circle, a music store that will change its name to The Wall when it moves into roomier quarters on Level 1; and Radio Shack, which gets turned up to Level 2.

Thrasher's to open Harborplace stand

Thrasher's French Fries, a stalwart of the Ocean City Boardwalk, is coming to Baltimore.

The chain's new Harborplace stand, which opens tomorrow, will be the first family-owned Thrasher's outside Ocean City.

Thrasher's has been serving fries and vinegar to hungry Ocean City beach-goers since 1929. The Jenkins family now operates stands at Wicomico Street and 8th Street. There is a franchised Thrasher's location in Wheaton and two in Rehoboth, Del.

Standard Supplies, creditors in accord

Standard Supplies Inc., a Gaithersburg-based contractor supplies company, says it has bounced back from bankruptcy and has rebuilt itself as a specialist in construction materials, steel, tools and equipment.

Standard president L. Christian Murphy says the company has reached a verbal agreement with creditors on a reorganization plan and expects to submit it to the court next month. Under new management, the company has rung up profits for both May and June after 33 straight months of red ink, it says.

Mr. Murphy says Standard Supplies has returned to basics after a period of overexpansion in the 1980s. Standard, which filed for bankruptcy Feb. 8, closed six of its eight stores, leaving a store and its steel division in Gaithersburg and a store in Frederick. It closed stores in Baltimore and Waldorf, while leaving sales offices in those locations.


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