Fila looks to score endorsement knockoutHunt Valley-based...


Fila looks to score endorsement knockout

Hunt Valley-based Fila USA, the American arm of Italy's Fila Holding S.p.a., has been picking up some heavyweight endorsements for its shoes and sportswear -- literally and figuratively.

Riddick Bowe, boxing's heavyweight champion, has agreed to lend his name to a line of apparel and shoes called the Bowe Motion Collection.

Jamal Mashburn, the fourth pick in the recent National Basketball Association draft, also has signed on. Mr. Mashburn, who was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, is endorsing a new basketball shoe called "The Mash."

Fila's U.S. sales have been soaring even without the big-name firepower marshaled by rivals Nike Inc. and Reebok International Inc.

But Fila has spent the summer assembling an all-star team from several sports. Among those who have signed on: tennis player Monica Seles, Olympic skier Alberto Tomba of Italy, and NBA players Hersey Hawkins, Tony Campbell and Tyrone Corbin.

In its most recent financial report, Fila Holding showed that U.S. sales grew 62 percent over the second quarter in 1992. U.S. sales accounted for 66 percent of its business in the quarter.

Fila, which had $349 million in worldwide sales last year, started selling American depositary shares, each representing five common shares, in the United States in May.

TV technology finds a place on eyeglasses

You're out on the beach but it's time for your favorite soap opera. Do you stay or go?

The people at Virtual Vision Inc. of Redmond, Wash., think they have a product that will eliminate such a choice. It's a 5-ounce pair of oversized eyeglasses that lets you watch a televised image projected on the inside of the lenses while listening to sound through headphones on the frames.

The product uses virtual imaging technology to make it appear that the screen is floating 10 feet away, the company says.

The image will appear as an inset to the viewer's field of vision, the company says. So, for example, you'd be able to watch a televised football game while attending a baseball game at Camden Yards.

The product, called the Virtual Vision Sport and priced at about $900, will fit over prescription eyeglasses.

The Virtual Vision Sport went on sale at Myer-Emco in Rockville last week and will become available in Baltimore-area Circuit City stores in a few weeks, the company said. The product is also distributed through the Sharper Image catalog.

Where's the soy? In new low-fat burger

Do you suppose Popeye's pal Wimpy would gladly pay you Tuesday for a soy protein concentrate burger today?

That would be his choice soon if the Jolly Green Giant has his way.

Pillsbury Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland announced last week that Pillsbury's Green Giant division will become the exclusive marketer of a "low-fat, no-cholesterol, all-vegetable patty" cooked up by Archer Daniels. The companies believe that increased concern about a healthful diet will make the 140-calorie Green Giant Harvest Burger a success where other bogus burgers have failed.

Pillsbury and Archer Daniels insist that their new product is a far different animal -- er, plant -- than the infamous soy burgers introduced 20 to 25 years ago. Gone, they say, are the soy taste and "flatulence problems."

Standard-sized burgers will sell at a suggested retail price of $2.69 for a package of four when they go into national distribution in October. They'll come in four varieties: original, Southwestern style, Italian style and breakfast patties.

Baltimore Grand is 'very much for sale'

Sam Gorn, the developer of the Baltimore Grand, says it should have come as no surprise that he closed the downtown banquet hall last month.

Mr. Gorn says Fiske Caterers, which had been running banquet operations at the restored bank building complex, gave notice in December that it would not renew its lease. As a result, he says, his Gaslamp Square Limited Partnership notified Fiske in February that it could not expect to continue its use of the property after the June 30 expiration date of the lease. Copies of correspondence between landlord and tenant confirmed his account.

Mr. Gorn plans to meet with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke on Aug. 31 to discuss the future of the property at 401 W. Fayette St. "The building is very much for sale," the developer said, adding that his partnership had lost money on the venture.

When it opened in 1989, the Baltimore Grand was regarded as potential centerpiece for the redevelopment of downtown.

New system aimed at helping shoppers

Trilogy Systems Inc., a Westminster-based company that develops customer-service technologies, has introduced a new grocery store system that dispenses coupons and recipes, helps shoppers find products, runs price checks and helps organize shopping lists.

Trilogy President Louis V. Salafia says the company has finished a pilot project that tested its Customer Service Center system in one Baltimore-area store. Having received a positive response from consumers, he says, the company will make the technology available to retailers throughout the mid-Atlantic states.


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