By Laura Spidale Let's talk for a minute about why loves--just "Every time someone successfully buys a $20 book from, it prepares him to buy a $2,000 computer system from Egghead," John Hough,'s spokeman, said. After divesting itself of its remaining 87 brick-and-mortar outlets, Egghead in fiscal 1998 moved operations to the web. Consumers ordered about $293.1 million worth of goods from the company web site. The nation's top 50 consumer electronics retailers in 1998 garnered $64.3 billion in sales, a 10.58 percent increase over the $58.1 billion earned in 1997. No one knows exactly how much of that total to attribute to Internet

Baltimore Entrances & Exits: Best Buy opened a store here, and Sears opened a store in the Owings Mills Mall in Owings Mills. Baltimore's Computer City store closed. Inner Harbor East is underway. This $350 million project will be a residential, hotel, office, retail and marina complex. Economy: Numerous developments are currently taking place in the city, focusing on both business and tourism Baltimore is in a strategic place because 32 percent of the nation's population and 34 percent of its manufacturing base are within a day's drive of the city. The Port of Baltimore is an extremely active site, and efforts have increased

Chicago Entrances & Exits: CE retailing options in Chicago thinned considerably last year with the departure of five area Elek-Tek and eight Egghead stores, as well as the transfer of Computer City to CompUSA and its virtual homogenization. Office Depot spread to the suburbs, opening stores in Waukegan, Hyde Park and Evanston. New Costco stores are scheduled to open in 1999 in Schaumburg and Oak Brook. Key retailers in the Chicago market continue to be Abt Electronics, Office Max, Circuit City, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Goldblatt and Sears. Retailers generally experienced an average to strong year, with the most change being an increase in

Minneapolis/St. Paul Entrances & Exits: Montgomery Ward in 1998 closed three locations--in Bloomington, Roseville and St. Paul--leaving one store operating in Blaine, Minn. CompUSA continues to operate all three of its accquired Computer City stores. Ultimate Electronics took ownership of seven Audio King stores in the Twin Cities and one Audio King store each in St. Cloud and Rochester, Minn., in July 1997. Then the chain used 1998 to do minor renovations of the Audio King stores and bring in more promotional price points using existing lines. "The objective was to increase store counts and that has been successfully done," said Jim Pearse, director of marketing at

Phoenix Entrances & Exits: Office Depot turned up the heat in Phoenix this year, adding five new locations. Among them: Glendale, Mesa, Tempe and two in Scottsdale. Circuit City added a store in the market. Two new CompUSA stores opened and one closed; one former Computer City location became a CompUSA. Costco moved one location and plans to add one by year's end. Economy: The area will see continued growth although at a slower rate than last year. Small business owners are bracing for the slow-down. High-end custom installers will continue to grow, as the new housing market continues to boom. One such retailer,

Washington, D.C. Entrances & Exits: Aside from the purchase of Computer City by CompUSA, retailer activity was fairly slow in the beltway. Coupled with the 1997 closure of Incredible Universe and Nobody Beats The Wiz, consumers are facing a shrinking number of retail options. This year will see the opening of two Best Buy stores in Fredericksburg and one Office Depot in Fairfax. Myer Emco is also looking to expand before the new millenium. Camcorders and digital cameras were hot items in '98, report several retailers. Many retailers reported that sales overall of consumer electronics were slightly lower in 1998 from the previous year,

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