At The Disney Store you find gentle Thumper, Bambi's rabbit pal. At Warner Bros. you get Bugs, the bunny with an attitude.
"The Disney Store appeals to the child in all of us," said David Altman, the mall's manager of retail operations. "Warner Bros. appeals to children but also to adults with their tongue-in-cheek humor."
About 80 percent of the merchandise in the Warner Bros. store is aimed at adults - many of them baby boomers who grew up on Looney Tunes and other Warner Bros. staples, said Linda O'Leary, a store spokeswoman.
"We want to bridge the age gap between parents and their children," said O'Leary. "They are fairly sophisticated cartoons. When you look back at them as an adult, you get a lot more than you did when you were a child."
The Cherry Hill store is the 34th in the Warner Bros. chain. The company opened its first retail outlet in Los Angeles and plans to have 56 open by the end of this year. The company opened a store in London earlier this month and
plans to open its largest store in New York next month, across Fifth Avenue
from Tiffany & Co.
For years, Warner Bros. has licensed the use of its characters for sale in other retail outlets. Now, it is directly peddling its Looney Tunes and comic heroes and its classic stars, such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, taking better control of the merchandise presentation and a bigger cut of the profit.
The company estimates it will sell about $1 billion in Looney Tunes merchandise this year. About 70 percent of that will come from apparel manufactured by other companies and sold through other retailers and the Warner Bros. stores.
Warner Bros. is the latest to blend entertainment with shopping. In addition to Disney, other companies selling entertainment products, such as Suncoast Motion Picture Co. and Blockbuster, are opening stores equipped with high-tech sound and video systems that seem as much like a theme park as a shop.
"They bring a level of retail excitement that appeals to children and adults, that hasn't been seen in recent years," Altman said of the Warner Bros. store.
At the back of the store is a nine-screen video wall, running a continuous string of classic cartoons, and promotions for new Warner Bros. movies and records. The screens are attached to a powerful surround-sound system that automatically ratchets the volume up, or down, depending on the number of people in the store.
Underneath the screen is a rocket ship for children to climb through. Children can also "color" celluloid animation scenes on a computer screen. And costumed Warner Bros. characters will visit the store, appearing full time in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The store, which stocks 2,000 items, is divided into departments designed to look like movie sets, complete with klieg lights and props.
One department sells framed photographs and other memorabilia from its classic films. Others sell kids toys and clothes, adult apparel and housewares, including Looney Tunes mugs, coasters, place mats and custom Italian pottery.
Much of the merchandise throughout the store is branded with the name Acme, the supplier of endless devices that never succeed in converting Road Runner to road kill.
Acme Markets, of Malvern, the dominant Philadelphia-area supermarket chain, is not worried about being mistaken for that Acme.
"We have no problem with that; everybody identifies that Acme with the Road Runner," said Judy Spires, an Acme spokeswoman.
The store also has its own art gallery where it sells Warner Bros. collectibles, such as a sterling silver Looney Tunes charm bracelet for $275 or a sequined bustier depicting Sylvester holding Tweety inches from his lips. Tweety is in a hot-dog roll. Sylvester is reaching for the mustard.
Framed animation cels - celluloid drawings used to create animated movement - range from $150 for a machine-made cel, up to $700 for an original production cel used to make a Warner Bros. cartoon.
Some of the most expensive cels are hand-painted designs by three of Warner Bros. original animators, Chuck Jones, Fritz Freleng and Virgil Ross.
"It will be hard to find these 10 or 15 years from now," O'Leary said.