No business like show business (shop)


For sale: A place that never gets dull.

After nine years, the Theatre Shop in Westminster is looking for a new owner.

"This doesn't mean we're going out of business," said owner Carol Fearns, who helped the West Main Street shop that specializes in dance and theater supplies expand into an entertainment company. "This is a chance of a lifetime. There's never a dull moment."

Ms. Fearns and actors associated with the business create a variety of productions from murder mystery weekends for business conventions to Santa Claus and Easter Bunny arrivals in malls as far away as Lancaster, Pa.

But Ms. Fearns said she now wants a chance at a business career and more time with her family.

"I'm basically moving on to pursue other interests," said Ms. Fearns, who will receive a master's degree in business administration from Mount St. Mary's College in May. "I have a couple of tentative options, but they are not final at this point."

The business -- which has an 1,100-piece costume collection that includes a soda can designed for Pepsi-Cola and a spice shaker for McCormick and Co. Inc. -- hit a slump in 1988 and 1989 that was similar to other businesses in the Baltimore area, Ms. Fearns said. It got back on track when she returned full time in 1991, she said.

"There was an upswing in the business, primarily, I think, through my efforts to increase the entertainment offerings," Ms. Fearns said. "We have really satisfied clients, malls that we're providing year-round activities. . . . Right now, we're working on Easter parades for several local malls."

But her efforts came at the expense of time with her two children, a 5-year-old and a 15-month-old. Ms. Fearns said she wants to make up that time now.

"Anyone who owns their own business knows that it takes a lot of hours," she said. "I feel that I've waited to have kids, and now I'm ready to spend time with them. They are lots of fun and require lots of energy. Something had to give."

The business and property are listed for $200,000 with Michael L. Mason, a commercial Realtor at O'Conor, Piper & Flynn in Westminster.

"That's all included, everything," Ms. Fearns said. "I turn over the key and walk out the door."

Mr. Mason said he has "three or four people in various stages of looking at the business and property." All are interested in purchasing the business and property together.

However, options include purchasing the building or the business separately. In addition to scripts, a client list for the entertainment business and the costume collection, business buyers would receive the shop's dance and theatrical supply stock.

Ms. Fearns said she believes that her shop is the only one in the county that sells theatrical supplies and a complete line of dance products.

"We're hoping that the person who eventually buys the business will continue here," Ms. Fearns said.

"Essentially, the business has done very well. I feel that I have accomplished my goals here, what I wanted to do with the company.

"I truthfully feel that the company now needs somebody different . . . to continue and bring it to the second level."

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