Deb Shops, a Philadelphia-based retailer that owns 304 teen apparel stores, has sold its Atlantic Books bookstore division to Mark Simon. Simon, along with his father, founded Atlantic Books about 25 years ago and sold it to Deb in 1995. Simon has been running the division since the sale and told PW he agreed to buy the chain back after executives at Deb decided they wanted to focus on their core business.

Atlantic Books is divided into two segments—six Atlantic Book Warehouse outlets and 11 Atlantic Book Shops. The warehouse stores range in size from 12,000 to 24,000 square feet and carry approximately 75,000 new titles and 15,000 to 20,000 remainders. Atlantic Book Shops are 1,000 to 4,600 square feet and are located primarily in resort areas in Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. In the fiscal year ended January 31, 2001, the resort stores had average net sales of $520,000, while sales at the warehouse stores averaged just under $2 million. Total revenues in the year were $17.6 million, an increase of 1.7% over fiscal 2000.

Simon said he expects to close one location, but is looking for venues to open new stores. Simon said both the resort and warehouse formats provide Atlantic with a business model that allows him to compete effectively with the national chains. The warehouse clubs "focus on price, service and selection, and forgo the amenities," while the resort stores operate in niche markets that are too small to support a chain store, Simon explained. For the six-month period ended July 31, 2001, sales were up 0.6%, to $8.1 million.