- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 8, 2004

EBay is coming to Washington to make virtually anyone better at virtual sales.

The online auction giant is setting up a one-day school on Saturday at the Washington Convention Center to teach new and experienced EBay sellers the ins and outs of the business.

EBay University began in June 2000 because many EBay members wanted a forum at which they could learn more about selling successfully on the site, said Jim Griffith, dean of EBay education.

Since its start, more than 60,000 people in cities across the country, including the District, have graduated from EBay University.

EBay is expecting about 1,000 people to dish out the $39 fee for the 6-hour seminar, which begins at 9 a.m.

The day is broken into two concurrent workshops. One class, called “Basic Selling,” takes students through the process of listing an item on the site — from beginning to end. The other class, “Beyond the Basics,” is for more experienced sellers who need help boosting their business.

More than 430,000 people make a full- or part-time living selling merchandise on EBay.

Hotel renovates

The Four Seasons Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue began a $20 million renovation last week to make its rooms 50 percent bigger.

When the project is complete, the upscale hotel will have eliminated 45 rooms, leaving 212 rooms and suites.

The hotel has closed its East Wing and has kept open only the 60 rooms and suites in its West Wing, which is located at a separate part of the hotel. The newly revamped rooms, which will be expanded from 350 square feet to 525 square feet, are expected to be complete in spring.

That means the majority of the hotel’s rooms will be out of commission during January’s presidential inauguration, a cash cow for D.C. hotels.

“It’s a short-term loss for a long-term gain,” said hotel spokeswoman Tricia Messerschmitt, who could not estimate the hotel’s lost revenue during the renovation.

Prime parking

Tysons Corner Center is giving shoppers a chance at premium parking spaces.

The McLean mall started a program last week that gives customers a chance to park at the first-level garage parking spaces.

Those spaces in the past usually were taken by store and mall employees and occupied for most of the day.

Mall officials say the new program will help improve the overall shopping experience.

Prior to opening each morning, the surface lots and designated parking garage entrances will be chained off. Just before 10 a.m., the chains will be removed to give customers access.

In other news …

• Velocity Sports Performance, a training center, is opening a 15,400-square-foot facility in Ashburn, a 21,000-square-foot facility in Alexandria and a 15,000-square-foot location in Rockville.

The three franchise-owned centers, which will provide training programs for athletes of all ages and skills, are scheduled to open in September.

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

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