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New Toy Store for Yuppies

MCA Inc., which sells novelty items to teen-agers and young adults through its Spencer Gift stores, has now set its sights on an older “yuppie” crowd, with the opening last Friday of a new store called A2Z in the Westside Pavilion on West Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles.

The merchandise ranges from gourmet mustard to telescopes. Only one of each item is on display, “museum” fashion, while a dozen video screens scattered about the store underscore the sales pitch.

Mindful of the yuppie desire for instant gratification, A2Z supplies preprinted cards alongside each display. If a customer wants to order an article, he simply takes a card to the nearby counter and fills his order on the spot. Nearly three-quarters of the store’s 4,500 square feet is devoted to keeping merchandise in stock.

With prices starting at $2.95, A2Z General Manager William Wittenberg says he believes the new store will offer a broader price range than such competitors as the Sharper Image, and he characterizes his merchandise as “more practical” than items typically offered by Hammacher, Schlemmer, the granddaddy of upscale merchandisers.

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Unlike those competitors, or the trendy Brookstone hardware stores--where Wittenberg worked until a year ago--A2Z does not offer a mail-order catalogue. Although Wittenberg does not rule out catalogue sales in the future, the company seems committed to the race to secure space in upscale shopping malls. Brookstone, for example, already has at least 36 stores in operation, and INgear, a San Francisco-based retailer, sells similar goods in at least six California outlets.

Wittenberg says MCA hopes to open another six to eight A2Z stores by January, including one in the Houston Galleria. MCA opened its first A2Z stores in two suburban shopping malls near Houston and Atlanta last November, to test the concept.


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