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Talk of the bay: No chic way to cover up Slump at Stein Mart

By Times staff
Published August 24, 2007


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In what could be a harbinger of consumer sentiment in Florida, Jacksonville-based Stein Mart Inc. cited poor sales in its home state for a deep second-quarter profit drop that officials think will deteriorate into a loss in the current quarter. "We've never seen it this bad," said Michael Fisher, chief executive of the 270-store chain that gets 16 percent of its business from Florida. "At this point we are not optimistic until we can get the customer re-energized." Sales in Stein Marts open more than a year were down 3 percent. But those in Florida were down 6 percent for the quarter that ended Aug. 4, the start of the back-to-school season. On Thursday, other big apparel chains nationally reported continued weak sales for the quarter ended Aug. 4.

Liquidation of Lou gets personal
Need some life-sized Star Wars figures, fancy furniture, gold records, a baby grand piano, suitcases filled with extra-large men's clothing or doormats monogrammed with a giant P? If so, you're in luck. Music producer Lou Pearlman's possessions will be on the auction block Saturday by order of the bankruptcy court. The auction will start at 10 a.m. at 7075 Kingspointe Parkway, Orlando. Pre-auction inspection is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and one hour before the auction. Online bidding and a list of items is available at www.proxibid.com.

Renovation agents add to portfolio
Another condo-conversion project bites the dust. Chicago-based Laramar Group, which paid $26-million for the 228-unit Bay Park at Clearwater, says it plans to spruce up the complex and resume marketing the units as apartments. Laramar has been busy lately. It recently acquired the note to Snell Isle Apartments, a 272-unit waterfront complex in St. Petersburg that was being converted before its owners defaulted on their mortgage. Laramar will consider restarting the conversion process when the market for condos recovers.

[Last modified August 23, 2007, 22:53:53]


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