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Windmill shop to close

December 28, 1998

Windmill shop closingBy DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




HALFWAY - The Windmill Shop, a women's clothing store here, will close at the end of the year, and the owner blames competition from a new outlet mall for taking away many of her customers.

"As soon as it opened, my business cut by 50 percent," shop owner Debbie Hoffman. Prime Retail at Hagerstown outlet mall, which is about four miles from The Windmill Shop at 17220 Virginia Ave., held a grand opening in August.

The Windmill Shop first opened about 26 years ago and Hoffman bought it three years ago. The shop, which employs seven people, sells clothing for women ranging from scarves for $12 to fur coats priced at more than $450.

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Hoffman, 40, said the store has not been profitable since the mid-1980s. She had hoped to turn the business around by spending more money on advertising.

She the outlook for the shop seemed to be improving until the outlet center opened.

"It's hard to compete with the outlets," she said, noting that outlet stores operate on a larger scale and thus typically can afford to sell their clothing for lower prices.

Hoffman has cut prices in half on most items and is preparing for a Dec. 31 closing.

"It's sad but you just can't continue to operate at a loss," she said.

Gil Brooker, general manager for Prime Retail at Hagerstown, said the mall was not intentionally competing with local merchants. He said the target market for the outlet center reaches into the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metropolitan areas, and he declined to comment on the condition of another business.

He said that in general, "All retail competes with themselves. And there's only so many retail dollars out there."

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