- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2001

Retail & Hospitality

Expo Design Center, a division of the Home Depot, has brought its remodeling and decorating concept to Maryland.

A nearly 109,000-square-foot store, which has 150 to 200 employees, is housed in a former Hechinger location on Westlake Terrace in Bethesda. And the company has plans to open another store in Columbia.

"This is completely different from the Home Depot," says Melissa Watkins, a spokeswoman for the chain. "Home Depot is do-it-yourself. Expo is design-it-with-help."

The interior design store has eight showrooms which specialize in kitchen, bath, lighting, carpet and rugs, outdoor living, hard flooring, window treatments and appliances. The showrooms have displays already set up allowing customers to visualize full room scenes and put all the elements of an interior design project together.

Shoppers can either pick out all the designs and appliances themselves and hire their own installer or Expo will do the installation. The store also has experienced industry professionals there to help customers from start to finish on a project.

Ms. Watkins says people sometimes come into the store with just blueprints and have Expo employees design the inside of their homes.

Currently Expo has 32 stores, including a location that opened in Fairfax in July 1999. There is no opening date for the Columbia store, which will be located at the corner of Dobbin Road and Snowden River Parkway. Ms. Watkins says it will likely be complete by the end of 2002.

The 10-year-old company plans to have at least 43 or 44 stores by the end of this year.

A new discovery

Discovery Channel Stores has acquired 11 former Store of Knowledge locations, including one in Pentagon City. The 4,600-square-foot Virginia store is scheduled to open in September.

The other acquired locations are in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio and Texas.

The Store of Knowledge chain, which sold educational toys and games, closed earlier this year.

The latest acquisition will give Discovery Channel Stores about 170 locations. The Berkeley, Cal.-based chain has eight stores including one at Union Station and at the MCI Center.

Making noise

Bang & Olufsen America Inc., an upscale audio/visual company, has opened its latest retail location on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda and plans to make more noise with three additional stores in the Washington area.

The expansion is part of the company's plan to open more branded shops in the United States.

Bang & Olufsen already has locations in Tysons Corner, Pentagon City and Towson, Md., with plans to open another store in Columbia, Md., by the end of this year.

The company is also looking to expand in Georgetown and Annapolis, says Tim Gillen, district manager for the Tysons Corner, Woodmont Avenue and Towson stores.

The audio store carries everything from upscale music systems and televisions to loudspeakers and accessories. The majority of the merchandise is from the Bang & Olufsen product lines.

Open for business

• Wal-Mart opened its newest store in Sterling, Va., last week. The nearly 148,000-square-foot store has about 330 employees.

• HomeGoods, a division of the TJX Cos. Inc., is opening its second Maryland store on Aug. 5 in Rockville. The 25,000-square-foot off-price home furnishings store will have about 60 full and part-time employees. HomeGoods has locations in Columbia and Kingstowne, next to Alexandria.

• Trader Joe's has started construction of an 11,000-square-foot specialty grocery store in Reston. The freestanding store is expected to open later this year. Trader Joe's has four other stores in Virginia.

• Jos. A. Bank Clothiers is opening four new stores in King of Prussia, Pa.; Pittsburgh; Denver; and St. Louis, expanding its total number to 123. The Hampstead, Md.-based retailer has opened eight new stores this year and expects to open as many as 25 by the end of 2001.

• Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.

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