By  on March 9, 1994

NEW YORK -- Merry-Go-Round Enterprises has opened a buying office here and tapped William Kolber to be vice president of sourcing and merchandising.

The office, at 485 Seventh Ave. -- the Fashion Atrium building -- between West 36th and West 37th Streets, is 6,600 square feet with nine showrooms. It opened March 1. The company plans to see 200 to 300 vendors per week.

It is the first time the company has had an office outside its Joppa, Md., headquarters.

"It was frustrating to have to run all over the city to see what was going on," said Leonard Weinglass, chairman and chief executive officer of the chain, which is operating in Chapter 11. "This gives us an opportunity to see new vendors whom we might never have heard of."

Weinglass, who was at the new office Tuesday, said he will spend about three days a week here supervising merchandising and buying activities.

He added that a key feature of the new office is its "open call" policy for vendors.

"It's a new philosophy for us," he said. "Interested vendors can have the opportunity to come see us. They don't need an appointment on Thursday or Friday mornings. And we'll stay here until we see them. This is where we should have been a long time ago."

Weinglass said the new setup would also allow the merchandising staff to "bounce ideas off one another" and that if a resource was not right for one chain, it might be good for another.

While the buying functions are now done from the new office, the move does not mean staff must be relocated. Buyers were traveling to Manhattan several times a week, anyway, the firm said. Now, they have a base. The office here will always be staffed, though not necessarily by the same people all the time.

Kolber, whose career spans 30 years, started March 1. It is a new post, and he is based in MGR's office here. He was most recently the East Coast sales manager for LEI, a California jeans maker, and previously served as a vice president of sales for Faded Glory, Bonjour and Sasson apparel firms.Weinglass said the company is still searching for a merchandising chief to succeed himself, eventually. Weinglass, who founded the chain, returned last December to take over the merchandising operations for the troubled chain, which filed its bankruptcy petition Jan. 11. He emphasized, however, that he would remain with the company "for however long it takes" for a new merchant to be in place and well acclimated with the day-to-day operations.

MGRE operates over 1,400 specialty stores under such names as Merry-Go-Round, Boogie's Diner, Dejaiz, Cignal and Garage.

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