- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Washington Ballet is banking on the appeal of a holiday classic to bring in some extra cash.

The ballet has opened the Sugar Plum Shop — a seasonal store featuring merchandise related to “The Nutcracker.” The shop is open during the Washington Ballet’s multiple performances of the production at the Warner Theatre this month.

“This is a great marketing tool,” said Keri Mesropov, director of marketing and public relations for the Washington Ballet. “We’re giving our patrons a well-rounded experience.”

This year’s production of “The Nutcracker” is new. It is choreographed by the ballet’s artistic director, Septime Webre, and features references to Washington and American history.

The ballet tested the Nutcracker-themed shop during last year’s production. It did so well that this year’s shop is three times bigger. Officials expect sales to reach $75,000.

“We learned that people are hungry for a souvenir and people are willing to spend,” Ms. Mesropov said.

The shop, which is staffed by volunteers, has about 35 items ranging from $4 to $460.

The merchandise includes a Nutcracker storybook with compact disc, a paint-your-own wooden Nutcracker set, finger puppets, ornaments and T-shirts. In addition, theatergoers can have pictures taken with the cast.

But don’t expect to see shops for all of the Washington Ballet’s performances.

“In an ideal world, we would have a shop for each production,” Ms. Mesropov said. “But not every production we do produces such great merchandise.”

Ms. Mesropov said the Washington Ballet hopes to someday have a permanent shop at its studios in the District.

Zoo shopping

The National Zoo is hoping to get more cash this holiday season, too. Two temporary National Zoo Stores are open at Fair Oaks in Fairfax and Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery in Bethesda. They will remain open until Jan. 16 and Jan. 31, respectively.

The shops, which carry a variety of zoo-oriented merchandise, are operated by the Friends of the National Zoo, a nonprofit group. Proceeds go to education, conservation and exhibit-renewal programs at the zoo.

These temporary stores have been popping up during the holidays since 1991.

In addition to three shops at the zoo, there is a permanent store at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Tysons expansion

Tysons Corner Center has signed 12 new tenants — including Barnes & Noble — as part of the mall’s expansion, slated to open next fall.

The bookseller plans to open a two-level, 33,000-square-foot store. The expansion also includes a 16-screen AMC movie complex, five full-service restaurants, a 10-unit food court and 30 retailers.

One of the new restaurants comes from Masaharu Morimoto, better known as the Japanese “Iron Chef” on the TV Food Network. The concept, called Pauli Moto’s Asian Bistro, will be an upscale restaurant with Pan-Asian cuisine.

Other new tenants include Arhaus Furniture, Guess, Old Navy, Oakley and Urban Outfitters.

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

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