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Big Ent. drops malls for online retail biz

Chain cashing in on e-commerce

Big Entertainment has decided to sell its mall-based stores to focus on its bige.com e-commerce Internet.

The Boca Raton, Fla.-based retailer, which specializes in movie and entertainment products, said in a statement Thursday that because of bige.com’s surprise performance since its November launch, it would sell the 15 stores it operates inside malls — which generated sales of $1.5 million in its most recent quarter — to focus more on the online venture.

The company launched its online retail site over the Thanksgiving holiday with very little publicity, racking up sales in the “six figures” and thus exceeding the company’s expectations, said Mitchell Rubenstein, Big Entertainment CEO and founder of cable’s Sci-Fi Channel.

Any sale of its mall stores would occur after the Christmas holiday, and discussions with a prospective buyer are ongoing, he added. “The market for entertainment merchandise online is enormous.”

E! Entertainment recently launched its own similar service at shop.eonline.com, selling “everything entertainment related.”

Bige.com has already inked exclusive placement deals with USA Today’s and RealNetworks’ Film.com Web sites. It also soon will be available on Time Warner’s Road Runner high-speed cable modem online system.

Big Entertainment shares dropped $1.69 Thursday to close at $9.94 after hitting a 52-week high of $21 after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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