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Bottom Falls Out of Bags

December 21, 1987

The bottom seems to have fallen out of the shopping bag market--at least at South Coast Plaza.

This year, the Costa Mesa mall began charging $1 for its Christmas bags, or double the price of last year's holiday bag. But late last week, Orange County's premier shopping center slashed its price to 50 cents. Nobody is saying whether customers complained or if mall management just didn't want to get stuck holding the bags.

"You can draw your own conclusions as to why," said marketing director Maura K. Eggan. "Thank God, that's one thing that isn't my department."

Getting Mileage Out of Ads

Here's an advertising idea with loft.

For the past three years, Nelson Friedman has given away helium balloons inscribed with the name of his West Los Angeles gift shop. "All the kiddies get a little balloon when they come in here, and the first thing they do when they get outside is let go of it," Friedman says.

Recently, he received in the mail the faded blue remains of a balloon that came from an Ashby, Minn., insurance agent, Ron Spangler, who said he came across the stray balloon on Nov. 15 while deer hunting in a remote forest in Minnesota, about 100 miles south of the Canadian border.

"Generally, there's no trash in the woods where I hunt," Spangler says. "It looked like it had been there a long time. It was very faded, but it was folded so that the name was legible."

Nothing to Sniff At

The maker of Giorgio Beverly Hills raised a stink when it saw the holiday television ad by the maker of a copycat fragrance called Primo!

Last week, a district court judge in Los Angeles issued a temporary restraining order barring Parfums de Coeur from further airing its ad, which basically says: "If you can't smell the difference, why pay the difference?"

Giorgio claimed the comparison between the two scents was "false and deceptive." Let's see. Primo! sells for $7.50. Giorgio goes for $165. There's no comparison there, certainly.

Right Shirt, Wrong Label

Shoppers at the May Co. department store in downtown Los Angeles may have been surprised to find men's shirts on sale bearing the J. W. Robinson Red Bag label--a label normally found only at Robinson's.

In the summer of 1986, May Department Stores bought Robinson's, and it pledged to operate both department store chains separately. Does the appearance of Robinson's clothing at May Co. mean that a change is in the works?

Not really, says Wendell Enfey, a Robinson's promotion and marketing executive. Both chains get their labels from the same manufacturer, he said, and, evidently, labels destined for Robinson's shirts ended up on May Co. apparel. "It's purely a mistake," he said.

Edible Reports

Foodmaker Inc. has good news for shareholders who get hungry while reading the San Diego-based company's quarterly reports. Sandwiched in with the financial data is a food coupon redeemable at the company's Jack in the Box restaurants. The second quarter report offered a free "Fajita Pita." Foodmaker executives view the coupons as an inexpensive and effective means of introducing the chain's newer menu items to shareholders.

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