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Business shuffle in the works at Long Meadow

May 04, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

As a longtime furniture and appliance store prepares to close at Long Meadow Shopping Center, other stores are getting ready to open.

Routzahn's Furniture and Appliance was in Hagerstown for 44 years, including the last 20 at Long Meadow.

The store announced Friday that it would sell the rest of its stock, then close.

Routzahn's will continue to have a showroom in Frederick, Md., where the business began in 1954, according to the company's Web site.

Owner Daryl Routzahn couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Deborah Everhart, Hagerstown's economic development coordinator, said an Ashley Furniture HomeStore branch will move into the building that Routzahn's vacates.

Ashley officials declined to comment this week.

Ashley has a showroom in Frederick, Md., and a warehouse in Hagerstown.

Three other stores are scheduled to open at Long Meadow Shopping Center by the end of the summer: The Little Gym, Contours Express and Pennsylvania Dutch Market.

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The Little Gym is a franchise that helps children learn motor and social skills.

Contours Express is a franchise women's fitness center.

Pennsylvania Dutch Market will have 10 to 12 individual food and craft vendors.

When the new stores open, Long Meadow Shopping Center will be about 75 percent leased, said Debra Hunt, the center's marketing director.

She said there are no specific plans yet for the vacant Sears building.

Carl and Michelle Wilhelm plan to open The Little Gym in June.

Carl Wilhelm said children 4 months to 12 years old will learn problem solving, confidence and more. The Little Gym's programs include music, sports, exercise and games.

The Hagerstown branch will be Maryland's seventh, according to The Little Gym's Web site. The closest other branch is in Frederick.

Wilhelm said he was a financial director for Tate Chrysler in Frederick and his wife worked for Mid Atlantic Medical Services (MAMSI). This is their first business venture.

Wilhelm said the couple's daughter did well in a program at the Frederick branch. They decided to open a franchise in Hagerstown, where each has relatives.

Their branch is expected to have five full-time and two part-time employees, he said.

Tori and Jason Evans of Hagerstown also plan to open their franchise, Contours Express, in June.

Tori Evans, who sells real estate, said she long has been interested in women's fitness.

She said Contours Express uses weights rather than hydraulic equipment. It also has warmup bikes and elliptical machines.

She expects the Hagerstown branch to have three or four employees.

The Schinzel family operated Pennsylvania Dutch Market in Westminster, Md., for 14 years before moving to Cockeysville, Md., two years ago.

Now, the family is opening a second branch at Long Meadow in August, said Rick Schinzel Jr., who will help manage both shops.

He said individual booths will include a bakery, barbecue meals, a butcher shop, candy and bulk food, fresh produce, cheese and salads, soft pretzels and ice cream, handmade furniture and a few crafters. There will be a small dining area.

Schinzel said his parents would bring the family to Hagerstown when they camped in Thurmont, Md. Now, the family looks at Hagerstown as a "booming area" and prefers it to Frederick for opening a new shop, he said.

The Hagerstown branch will be open three days a week and will have about 60 or 65 employees among all of the vendors, he said.

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