- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

National Geographic Society has partnered with several companies to create new lines of merchandise from umbrellas and shoes to neckties and sportswear, expected to hit store shelves this summer and later in the year.

The more than 20 licensing agreements, signed in the past two years, are part of an extensive program by the D.C.-based nonprofit organization.

"We do view licensing to be an important part of the organization going forward," says John Dumbacher, vice president of licensing at National Geographic. "It provides an additional revenue source to fund research and exploration."

Some National Geographic merchandise like its T-shirt line is already available in stores like the Museum Co. and JC Penney.

But much of the merchandise which takes 12 to 18 months to create, test and finalize are hitting retailers beginning this summer.

The organization's line of footwear, created and marketed by Rugged Shark based in Lighthouse Point, Fla., will be available at stores like REI next month.

Neckties and socks, created by Reid International, will hit department stores and specialty retail stores in July. The neckwear line will consist of two distinct looks, both capturing the images seen on the pages of the monthly National Geographic magazine.

Portland, Ore.'s ShedRain has been named the exclusive licensee for National Geographic umbrellas, which are expected to hit stores by the fourth quarter of this year.

National Geographic branded sportswear and outdoor clothing for men, women and children are being created by Bailo SpA and are expected to hit select retailers by early next year.

National Geographic already has its own line of magazines, books and maps, as well as a television network that debuted in January.

All proceeds from licensing go back to the society to support research, exploration, geography education and other programs.

Expanding L.L. Bean

Mega catalog retailer L.L. Bean has opened a 30,000-square-foot store at the Mall in Columbia it's second full-service retail location in the greater Washington area. The store, which has approximately 100 employees, is full of everything from rain gear, backpacks and tents to canoes, kayaks and bikes.

L.L. Bean opened its first full-service store outside of its Freeport, Maine, hometown last year at Tysons Corner Center. That two-level store, which is 76,000 square feet, has about 140 employees.

The company, best known for its catalogs and online business, also has 10 factory outlet stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware and Oregon.

April sales heat up

Consumers heading to stores to buy spring and summer apparel helped boost sales at apparel specialty stores by 4.4 percent in April compared to the same time last year, according to Census Bureau figures.

"The improved sales pattern in April bodes well for future sales and is evidence that the consumer is still in a spending mood," says Rosalind Wells, National Retail Federation's chief economist.

Severe winter weather and a soft economy kept consumers away from stores during February and March. Last month, however, people began shopping for clothes, lawn and garden supplies and other outdoor merchandise, according to the National Retail Federation.

Opening for business

Harris Teeter plans to open its third grocery store in Virginia at Pentagon Row on June 13. The 48,000-square-foot store, which will remain open 24 hours a day, will have about 160 employees.

The North Carolina-based chain has two stores in Annandale and Arlington and plans to open another location in Fairfax City in late summer or early fall. Harris Teeter has no plans for stores in Maryland.

• Angelo and Maxie's Steakhouse is set to open its second location in the area on May 21 at the Reston Town Center. The 8,870-square-foot restaurant, which includes a 970-square-foot outdoor patio, has a total seating capacity of 283.

• Giant Food has opened its second in-store coffee bar at its Bailey's Crossroads location in Falls Church. Rituals Coffee Bar, which is partnership with U.S. Foodservice, opened its first location in March at the River Hill Shopping Center in Clarksville, Md.

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

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