COUNTY SEAT PLANS THREE FARMER'S ALMANAC STORES

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS--County Seat Stores will test a new retail format, The Old Farmer's Almanac General Store, featuring casual apparel and home furnishings for the country lifestyle, and a slice of Americana.
The stores will range between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet and will replicate turn-of-the-century general mercantiles with props such as pot-bellied stoves and rocking chairs.
Three units will open in November, but the locations aren't set. One will be at a mall here.
If the tests are successful, additional stores are planned at shopping malls in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
County Seat, based here, has an exclusive license for The Old Farmer's Almanac name from Yankee Publishing, which publishes the annual compendium of weather, astronomy and gardening forecasts.
"The brand image and awareness of The Old Farmer's Almanac offer unlimited means to create and sustain an inspiring shopping experience that will appeal to a family audience within a broad demographic base," said Barry Parker, chairman, chief executive officer and president of County Seat.
Published yearly since 1792, the almanac was chosen as the new chain's theme because of its popularity, recognition and historical reputation, Parker said.
Moderate-priced clothing for women, men and children--jeans, tops, jackets and overalls--will make up as much as 15 percent of the apparel mix, said Parker.
The apparel will bear The Old Farmer's Almanac label and will be oriented to casual lifestyles and denim, explained Nina Gerety, County Seat's vice president and general merchandise manager.
"The apparel will tie in nicely with outdoor products like garden tools, weather-related items and tabletop and kitchen products," said Gerety. Items will probably include gardening shoes and hats, work boots, bandanas and watches.
County Seat, with volume of $588.3 million in 1994, operates 720 County Seat private-label denim stores, 28 County Seat outlet stores and 19 Levi's outlet stores under license from Levi Strauss.

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