Sunday, October 10, 1999

TIPSHEET


Beanie store just for those in a hurry

        It had to come to this — a way to buy and sell Beanie Babies without ever leaving your car.

        Small-businessman and retailer Don Kerns, a resident of Butler County's Liberty Township, has opened what may be the universe's first drive-through window for Beanie Babies at a former Fifth Third Bank branch at 7245 Kingsgate Way.

        “We've had a couple of people use it so far,” Mr. Kerns said. “Most people will probably use it for the thought of using it.”

        The window leads to the showroom at Tri-State Bean Bags, a store that opened in early August. How long will this fad last? “As long as Ty's in business, it will last,” Mr. Kerns said. “It's been an interesting roller-coaster.” — John Eckberg

5/3 transactions jump
        Four billion transactions ... and still counting the money.

        No, this is not a commercial about how many hamburgers the nation's largest fast-food restaurant sells. It's about how much business Fifth Third Bank's data-processing unit expects to ring up this year.

        Acquisitions, consumers' increasing willingness to buy goods and services on the Internet with plastic, and of course ATM surcharges, will help MPS make 4 billion electronic transactions this year. That's a jump from about 2.75 billion in 1998.

        Those transactions will pump more than $170 million in additional revenue to Fifth Third, up from $138 million last year. — Jeff McKinney

Scared into picking Miami
        Miami University's business school probably owes a small debt of gratitude to a long-forgotten University of Michigan football player for the $1 million personal endowment presented last week by C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T chairman and 1961 Miami graduate.

        A Detroit native, Mr. Armstrong was invited to the Ann Arbor campus to consider a football scholarship from the Big Ten school.

        “I was being shown around by this big 270-pound lineman. I thought he must have been a starting tackle, but no, he told me was just a third-string guard,” Mr. Armstrong recalled during a visit to Oxford.

        “I was just a 192-pound end, and this was the type of guy I'd be blocking against. Suddenly the opportunity to be a walk-on (at Miami) seemed a much more reasonable proposition,” Mr. Armstrong recalled. — Mike Boyer

Fountain of youth?
        Those who are convinced regular doses of Skyline Chili contribute more to the waistline than the life line might want to think again. Consider the Cincinnati chain's founders.

        Greek immigrants Nicholas and Alexandra Lambrinides practically lived on their chili after founding Skyline in 1949, son Lambert said. And Mom and Dad lived to the ripe old ages of 94 and 83, respectively.

        “They used to eat the chili every day,” Lambert Lambrinides said. “It's a longevity item.”

        Mr. Lambrinides is 76. His twin brothers, Bill and Christie, will be 72 on Oct. 19. All three still eat Skyline a couple times a week, but two of the brothers have cut back on the cheese. — Lisa Biank Fasig

Thrifts create job bank
        Here's one area Tristate employers suffering from a tight labor market might soon tap into for workers: the local thrift industry.

        Word is that there is — or could soon be — an ample number of individuals in the local savings-and-loan industry looking for new opportunities.

        The openings likely are being created by the recent rapid consolidation of Greater Cincinnati thrifts, with six thrifts locally being acquired since July 1998, mainly by larger banks.

        Many of the area's largest thrifts have been or are being acquired, including the parents of Centennial Bank, Oak Hills Savings and Loan, and Enterprise Federal Savings Bank.

        “It's the only industry that I know of where there is a large supply of people — with skills in management to clerical positions,” said Thomas Noe, a Cincinnati thrift exec planning to be a partner in a new entity formed to battle the city's largest banks. — Jeff McKinney

        Items for Tipsheet are gathered by Enquirer business reporters and compiled by Lisa Biank Fasig of the business staff.

       



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SMALL-BUSINESS DIARY