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Clearwater store targets bargain-minded shoppers

Kathleen Martin had worked more than 20 years as an accountant when she decided she wanted to put some excitement into her professional life _ own and operate a retail store.

Not one to jump into a new endeavor without research, Mrs. Martin spent five years working out the details of starting the new business _ a dollar store, $1 Town, that she recently opened at Sunset Square shopping center.

"With the economy constantly changing, I felt a dollar store was the way to go," she said. "I figured somebody would always have a dollar to spend."

It took a while to find the right place for the business, said the 42-year-old Odessa resident. Tampa is saturated with dollar stores, she said, so she began looking around Pinellas County.

The storefront at Sunset Square with a little more than 2,000 square feet was just what she had in mind. She leased it and went right to work. New carpeting was installed, the walls were painted and shelving was brought in. Inventory included toys, greeting cards and stationery, picture frames, kitchen and household items, tools, health and beauty aids, cosmetics, fragrances, candles, gift bags, snacks and spices and a large variety of party goods and Mylar balloons.

She invested $40,000 to open the business and hired five employees.

The inventory is constantly changing, she said. "I like to see what I'm getting, so I do a lot of hands-on buying," she said. "I travel to Miami once or twice a month." She also buys from some distributors in the Tampa Bay area.

With the store open now for several months, Mrs. Martin said she is happy with her career change and doesn't mind the commute.

She and her husband, Kenneth, sales manager for a laundry equipment company in Tampa, and their two sons moved to Odessa 11 years ago from the Philadelphia area. Locally, she worked for Lykes Corp. and PricewaterhouseCoopers before starting her business.

Sunset Square shopping center and $1 Town is at 1865 N Highland Ave., Clearwater.

Sears at Countryside Mall

expands tool department

Sears, Roebuck and Co. at Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N in Clearwater, has just opened Tool Territory, an expanded hardware department featuring some 18,000 tools in a 10,000-square-foot area. The store is among 14 Tool Territory departments that opened last week and over the weekend in Florida Sears stores.

"We're bringing Tool Territory to Sears stores throughout Florida because home improvement is incredibly popular in the region," said George Kurkowski, Sears national marketing manager for Tool Territory.

He said the company added 72 of the top tool brands to its current assortment, including Stanley, DeWalt, Makita, Delta, Fluke and Estwing. Special areas in the department are devoted to carpentry, woodworking, mechanics, general purpose tools, as well as specialty power tools for lawn and garden use.

Tool Territory was introduced two years ago in Virginia and Connecticut Sears stores. Last year, the company added 136 Tool Territory departments to stores primarily in the Northeast and Midwest. By the end of this year, nearly a third of the company's approximately 860 stores will feature the tool department.

Businessman elected

to Executive Committee

Art Munjone, president of Abbey Carpet of Largo, 13120 66th St. N, has been elected a member of the Executive Committee, an international organization of chief executive officers. Members from non-competing businesses meet monthly to learn how to accelerate their companies' growth.

Housing director named

at Abilities of Florida

Lori Kreisle has been promoted to director of housing at Abilities of Florida, 2735 Whitney Road, Clearwater. She most recently worked as affordable housing manager, a position she held for two years. Before joining Abilities, she was a loan processor at Tampa Bay Community Development and before that, operations manager at Principal Residential Mortgage in Des Moines, Iowa.

Abilities of Florida is a Clearwater-based, non-profit organization. It owns and manages 150 housing units in the state. With HUD grants, it acquires and renovates condominiums throughout Pinellas County and leases them at subsidized rates to people with disabilities and low incomes. An Abilities program, Home for Independence, also owns and manages 90 apartment units in Cocoa.

Genesis Direct hires

production coordinator

Anita L. James has joined Genesis Direct, 391 Roberts Road, Oldsmar, as production coordinator. She previously worked in circulation marketing at the St. Petersburg Times. Genesis Direct is a direct marketing/direct mail company that provides creative design, data processing, mailing lists, direct mail production, campaign management and response analysis.

_ News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at (727) 445-4119 or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.

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