Bagging a Deal : With Luggage 4 Less' focus on quality, the only thing cheap about the merchandise is the prices.

If your luggage looks like it might not make it through another airport baggage carousel, there's a quick fix at low prices at Luggage 4 Less.

When I visited this store on a Saturday morning, there was a crowd of customers in response to a newspaper ad quoting prices on three sizes of rollaways, today's most popular type of luggage. For instance, a 21-inch model that would retail for about $160 was advertised at $69.99. These are very well made, with two heavy-duty ball-bearing wheels on each side, and are imported for Luggage 4 Less.

When Fred Cohen, the former owner of Weiner's Luggage, assumed ownership of Luggage 4 Less in October, 1993, he made some changes, turning the focus from low-end brands to more quality pieces, increasing inventory and lowering prices. "If our prices aren't less, then we'd have to change our name to 'Luggage 4 More,' " Cohen said with a wink.

Many major names in luggage--Delsey, Lark, Ventura, Boyt, Halliburton, Tumi, Samsonite and American Flyer--are available, all at deep discounts. Missing, however, are pricey names such as Hartmann, French and Ghurka.

Boyt is a high-quality product, and their Mach II 21-inch rollaway is a beauty, which sells here for considerably less.

A sturdy ballistic nylon garment bag for $129 was a buy, since the usual price is $220. Less expensive garment bags are available, of course, but this fabric is used in bulletproofing and when punctured does not fray. So the bag will have a longer life than average nylon ones.

Perhaps the best buys in the store are the attaches and briefcases. These all-leather cases would usually sell for $80 to $100, but because these are direct imports the price is $39.99. Other direct imports go by the in-house brand name of Roma, and these are also excellent deals. There are also a few very high-end cases, and they are heavily discounted. A stunning case by Lion sells for $400 in most stores but here is $249.99.

High-fashion soft luggage by Kipling is appealing and colorful. It's priced from $23 for a backpack to $99 for a garment bag.

Cohen's love for luggage carries over into collecting antique trunks and suitcases. A handsome trunk made in Virginia in 1868 is on display and priced at $595. But there's one piece of luggage in Luggage 4 Less that doesn't have a price tag: It's a Hartmann steamer trunk from the 1930s in mint condition. Cohen has been offered as much as $3,000 for it, but, there it is, still in the window. It's his treasure chest.

Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life! Questions about shopping may be sent to her, in care of Valley Life!, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Letters will not be answered individually, but topics of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Geri Cook can be heard from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on KIEV 870-AM.

Where to Shop

What: Luggage 4 Less.

Location: 5144 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (818) 760-1360.

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