- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

Downtown Locker Room is outfitting several markets with new stores as part of its continued aggressive expansion plan.

The Hanover, Md.-based urban fashion chain, which has 40 stores from Baltimore to Atlanta, will open 10 stores this year and plans to have 90 stores in about five years.

The company says its stores are filling a need in untapped markets.

“Urban fashion retailers are not catering to customers the way they should be,” said Jeff Bowden, director of corporate and community outreach for Levtran Enterprises, which owns Downtown Locker Room. “We see opportunity.”

After opening in Baltimore in 1984, the company continued to grow but at a slow pace, adding about one store a year. In 1999, the company accelerated its growth plan locally and in new markets including Richmond, Norfolk and Atlanta.

Last year, sales reached $75 million compared with $62 million in 2003.

But don’t expect to the see the Downtown Locker Room name in stores outside the Washington and Baltimore area.

Mr. Bowden said that original name no longer describes the company and its merchandise because it expanded beyond athletic footwear about 15 years ago. New stores in markets outside the Washington and Baltimore area use the name DTLR.

Downtown Locker Room already is branded in this region, so any new stores here will have that name.

Levtran will open a Downtown Locker Room at Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton this month. The company is finalizing deals on DTLR stores in Atlanta, Hampton, Va., and its newest market, Charlotte, N.C.

Next year, Levtran plans to open in another new market and is considering Houston, Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans, Mr. Bowden said.

Indian-owned hotel opens

The Residence Inn Capitol, owned by four American Indian tribes and local investors, held its official grand opening last week complete with a blessing ceremony.

The $43 million, 233-suite hotel marks the first joint business venture for Four Fires LLC, an economic partnership among San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians of Southern California, Forest County Potawatomi Community of Wisconsin and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. The hotel is managed by Hospitality Partners of Bethesda.

The Marriott International-brand extended-stay hotel is located at 333 E St. SW, three blocks from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the U.S. Capitol.

Three of the tribes — San Manuel, Viejas and Oneida — have invested in another Residence Inn in Sacramento, Calif. The $53 million, 239-suite hotel is expected to open in summer 2006.

Retail rummage …

Sports Zone, an athletic footwear and apparel chain, is moving its 20,000-square-foot headquarters and distribution center to a bigger space in Beltsville this month. The new 39,500-square-foot facility is located at the Ammendale South Technology Center, a 185,000-square-foot campus being developed by Manekin LLC.

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

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