Metro Food growth could challenge GiantWhen the...


Metro Food growth could challenge Giant

When the Baltimore-area's fourth Metro Food Market opens on Liberty Road this Sunday, it will mark the beginning of a fall-winter offensive that could increase the chain's impact on market-leader Giant Food Inc. from a flea bite to a bee sting.

The new store, which raises the curtain on several new acts in Metro's "theater of food" concept, follows Metro markets at Perry Hall, Perring Plaza and Eastpoint, which have been exceptionally successful since they opened in late 1992.

Nothing Metro will do in the foreseeable future threatens the primacy of Giant in the Baltimore grocery business. The Landover-based chain holds a market share of 29 percent; Metro and its sister chain, Basics, haven't even cracked double figures, according to the Columbia-based publication Food World.

But with new stores coming on line at Crofton, U.S. 40 west and Pasadena Crossroads this winter, Metro is breaking out of its eastern Baltimore County niche and becoming a regional player. Of the four new Metro stores, three will replace Basics stores.

Metro's ambitions hardly stop there, according to Pete Vanderveen, president and chief operating officer of Basic/Metro's parent, Super Rite Corp. Once the four stores are completed, two more Metros will come on line by the end of 1994 and another one or two in early 1995, he said. Likely locations include Bel Air, Timonium and Reisterstown Road, he says.

Super Rite's aggressive expansion of the Metro concept isn't likely to run Giant out of the area, but it could slice a few points off Giant's local market share. "If there's someone creating a potential challenge for Giant, it would be Metro," said Food World publisher Jeff Metzger.

The newest incarnation of Metro includes some substantial changes from the original version. Gone is Taco Bell. Now occupying an expanded hot food service area are a mamma ilardo's pizzeria franchise, a leased space for Chu's Wok Chinese takeout and Metro's own chicken and ribs carry-out.

Also on premises: a full-service Provident Bank branch with three teller stations and an office. According to Basics/Metro President John Ryder, Metro's Provident branches will be the only banks in Maryland to open on Sundays.

Cruise the mall via interactive TV

It used to be you went to the mall to get a TV. Soon you'll be able to go to your TV to get a mall.

That's the word from Time Warner Inc. and Spiegel Inc., which announced yesterday that they will launch two cable television home shopping channels next year, including an interactive "video shopping mall."

If it succeeds, the joint venture would leapfrog QVC Network Inc. and Home Shopping Network Inc., neither of which has announced firm plans for an interactive channel -- one that lets shoppers choose what they want to see with the touch of a button.

Both channels will offer clothes, accessories and home furnishings from Spiegel's catalog and from its Eddie Bauer and other specialty divisions. The interactive channel will make its debut next April on an experimental cable network Time Warner is building in Florida.

'Electronic book' touted as a novel approach

O, we have made a vow to study, lords,

And in that vow we have forsworn our books.

William Shakespeare,

"Love's Labour's Lost"

A Tennessee company will introduce a "revolutionary publishing technology" called BookWorm today, and if its launch is a success, many students could wind up forswearing their traditional books in favor of computers.

Communication and Information Technologies Inc. of Knoxville will unveil its first BookWorm "electronic book," a volume of four Shakespeare plays, at the Electronic Books 1993 conference in New York.

"This revolutionary new product . . . is set to take the electronic publishing industry by storm," the company boasts in a release announcing the product. "Books are soon to be relegated to the dusty corners of old-fashioned libraries and replaced, for the most part, with products like BookWorm."

In other words, your grandchildren might someday spot a bound volume and exclaim: "A book? O rare one!" ("Cymbeline").

BookWorm's inventor, Laura Brcsko, insists that her technology combines the best aspects of books and computers.

Ms. Brcsko says BookWorm is not designed "to blot old books and alter their contents" ("The Rape of Lucrece"), but will present the full text in its original form. Along with that, users of BookWorm editions will be able to consult an on-line dictionary, highlight passages without a yellow Magic Marker, leave notes in the "margin" and read annotations left by their teachers or fellow students.

In addition, students can select options that will let them hear and see actors such as Orson Welles read passages. "This is the greatest thing to hit the industry since mass-produced books became available," Ms. Brcsko enthused.

Ultimately, the success of BookWorm will depend on how it is used. If it encourages reading, it could represent "the brightest heaven of invention" ("Henry V"). But if it distracts from the author's words, BookWorm could "return to plague the inventor" ("Macbeth"). The best product advice might have come from the Clown in "Antony and Cleopatra," who warned: "Look you, the Worm is not to be trusted but in the keeping of wise people."

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