- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

Standing room only

The cafe cars on the Virginia Railway Express are about to go the way of the steam engine.

Apparently, the VRE is more popular than ever leading to a shortage of seats. So the commuter line plans to replace its cafe cars with regular cars, so more people can sit down.

Why not just add an extra car and keep the cafe? Railroad officials say they have a severe lack of storage room at Union Station downtown, so they can't have any extra cars.

still, VRE said it is trying to lease more storage space. And if they can, the cafe cars will some day roll again.

Tops in toys

Circuit City, the Richmond-based consumer electronics retailer, posted a 16.7 percent sales increase in 1999 and unseated toy retail pioneer, Toys 'R' Us, as the top specialty store chain.

Circuit City also is the first consumer electronics retailer in 15 years to lead the Triversity Top 100 Specialty Stores survey, which is sponsored by the National Retail Federation. Toys 'R' Us had occupied the top spot since 1990, but slipped to number three behind Best Buy, the Minneapolis-based consumer electronics chain, which posted a 24.1 percent sales gain.

Promoting banks

A lot of immigrants especially illegal immigrants won't go near a bank. And in Prince George's County, that's created a situation where a number of Hispanics are walking around with lots of cash, making them easy robbery targets.

But county officials hope a new program unveiled last week in Langley Park will change things. They call it the Community Banking Initiative, and it will allow immigrants to open accounts at participating banks without Social Security numbers.

Police are hoping it will encourage immigrants to overcome any fears they have of banks.

Stop the dealers

Arlington is moving to limit the number of car dealers in the county.

The Arlington Board is approving an ordinance that makes it tougher to open a dealership or for an existing one to change hands. Under the new rules, applicants will have to show that there's enough space for parking, offices and so on.

The county now has 70 car dealers, and both residents and officials are upset that some are parking cars on sidewalks and nearby streets.

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