Saturday, August 31, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - George Karpman can go on and on about uniforms, as you might expect from a guy whose fed up with the clothes line.

"The labor was getting to us, " said Karpman, marketing manager for Memorial Homecare. "If you have a blue jacket, you've got small, medium and large. Extra large, XX, XXX, XXXX and XXXXX. And you've got to tag them all and check them all."

Not only that, he added, you've got to keep up with the seasons because the day of the solid-color uniform has come and gone.

What's more, he added: "We found that there are so many catalogs that float through the market that people were using us as a fitting area. They'd come over and try on the ones they liked and then order from a catalog because catalogs can sell for less than we can."

Karpman decided he'd had enough about six months ago. That's when Memorial decided to ditch the 1,000-square-foot uniform section at its Springfield location and replace it with seat-lift chairs, which have always sold well for the four location HME. Memorial finished the conversion in May.

To add some pizzazz to the expanded seat-lift chair section, Karpman added some upscale Brookstone's style products - massage chairs, foot massagers - to the mix last month. He's hoping they catch the eye of baby boomers shopping for traditional DME for a parent or spouse. HME