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    HomePlace makes exit; new store opens soon

    A Burlington Coat Factory will open Aug. 1 not far from where Waccamaw's HomePlace is going out of business.

    By MAUREEN BYRNE

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 22, 2001


    SEMINOLE -- As shelves grow more barren by the hour at a going-out-of business sale at Waccamaw's HomePlace in Seminole Mall, workers are busily preparing for the opening of a nearby Burlington Coat Factory.

    The doors will open Aug. 1, said Pat Packman, general manager of the new Burlington Coat Factory at Seminole Plaza. The opening will fill a void at the 144,000-square-foot strip center left by Roberds furniture store, which closed in the spring of 2000. The space makes up more than half of the plaza at Seminole and Park boulevards, one of the city's most visible retail corners.

    The Burlington, N.J., company, which operates 295 stores in 42 states, sells men's, women's and children's clothing, shoes, linens and accessories. The new store will hire as many as 100 employees.

    The company spent $1-million to renovate the interior and exterior of the 87,000-square-foot site, Packman said. "They completely gutted the entire thing," she said.

    Stacey Kelleher, a spokeswoman for the company, said the Burlington store on 34th Street in St. Petersburg will close in July. "It didn't work at that location," she said.

    The company now has 12 stores in Florida and two stores in Pinellas County, one in Clearwater and one in St. Petersburg.

    Meanwhile, shoppers have one more week to snag bargains at Waccamaw's, a home furnishings store.

    HomePlace of America Inc., a privately held company based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., announced last month that it was shutting down the 122-store chain.

    The manager of the Seminole store declined to comment Thursday, and no one from the corporate office returned phone calls.

    The 44,000-square-foot store opened in November 1998.

    Larry Lang, executive vice president of Lamar Inc., which manages the mall, said a well-known national apparel chain is interested in the mall location. He said he could not say what company because the contract is in negotiations.

    Louise Whitiker, an avid shopper at Seminole Mall, doesn't think there is a need for another clothing store. "I think it's large enough that Sears could have a branch over here," she suggested.

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