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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


October 29, 2003

Tarnished Gold Polished, But.

David 'Kip' Koontz

Boscov's is here. They've blown into town with entertainers and sports celebrities helping create a buzz in order to draw the curious to the new store.

They opened offering deep discounts on knives, pots and pans, waffle irons and many, many more items we can't live without - or were seemingly unavailable elsewhere in Frederick before Boscov's came to town.

They gave away free movies for kids and adults to entice shoppers.

So great were the crowds, traffic control and police were needed to help keep order as entering and exiting the mall was difficult.

Tuxedo wearing staffers happily opened the door for your entrance upon which you were greeted with a cheery, "Hello, would you like to apply for a new Boscov's card?"

They had what seemed to be hundreds of staffers lined up in the back of the store so that you could drive around and pick up your packages that one could leave at any register and pick-up after the day of shopping was complete.

So many people were working in the store to provide personalized service you'd think half of Frederick now works at Boscov's.

But, in listening to several employees and through engaging several in conversation, many, many, many of those staffers were in town only for opening weekend to ensure the appearance of a level of service that will most definitely diminish when they pack up and go back from whence they've come.

To show their commitment to community, Boscov's "soft opening" was a day for non-profit organizations to buy $5 tickets so their members, family and friends could shop a day prior to the store's actual opening. Nice, but while the non-profit indeed made money through the ticket sales, Boscov's did too.

Al Boscov, the company's owner, went so far as to assure us that, "if the company makes money, we spend money in the community."

In other words---SHOP!

In actuality, Boscov's coming to town is a good thing. It should help revitalize the mall and the once "Golden Mile."

However, let's show a little respect to those who have stayed in Frederick Towne Mall and on Route 40 as the gold on the thoroughfare tarnished.

On Sunday, while walking in the mall, a woman riding a motor scooter zipped by shouting at shoppers through a megaphone to "shop at Boscov's, follow me to Boscov's."

Tacky and unnecessary as one would have to be headless not to know that Boscov's has come to town, but that act certainly doesn't help create goodwill with your mall neighbors - "don't shop there, shop only at Boscov's!"

While shopping in another store in Frederick Towne Mall, Bon Ton, Boscov's managers all bedecked in their white flowers to signify their importance, were seen laughing at what they declared to be "an inferior store" while gloating at how "slow" it was, declaring gleefully "everyone is shopping at Boscov's!"

A family, upon seeing how slow business was at Bon Ton on Boscov's big opening weekend, took delight in Bon Ton's "slow day" declaring something about how "this will be what Bon Ton looks like everyday - until they close!" as they laughed heartily.

Huh?

Nice, hope for one store to succeed at the expense of another?

One would hope that people would view this as a time for rejuvenation.

A time where one would hope that, as there is a big new store in Frederick Towne Mall and Home Depot coming, with word that Wolfe's Furniture is relocating to Route 40, that a trend may start in that more name stores will come to the mall and to Route 40 and that everyone - not just a few, would be profitable.

The fuss that is now Boscov's will in time diminish. It is, in fact, just another store.

It will stand in Frederick along side of Hecht's, Kohl's, JC Penney's, Target and others - all of which got a buzz when they first opened, or moved to their "new improved" location.

What we need to remember is that one "big" store stayed in Frederick Towne Mall through what can only be described as a rough period as other anchors closed or moved and while other national chains snubbed Frederick Towne Mall for the "greener pastures" of the Francis Scott Key Mall or on Routes 355 or 85 - Bon Ton.

Bon Ton stayed and even remodeled though they didn't receive special tax incentives from the city and county.

Additionally, let us not forget the national stores like K-Mart and slews of locally owned restaurants and stores like Frederick Bedrooms that hung on through the Golden Mile's downturn.

It is exciting that a new store has opened, but let us not forget that if it were not for those stores that stayed, remodeled and hung on without the benefit of tax credits to entice them, there would be no mile on which there is hope to find gold again.



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