We . . . would like a verification of your statement in the article "College Park: Ice Cream and Terps" [Weekend, January 27] that "Categories of merchandise are extremely limited and prices tend to be high, with merchants taking advantage of many students' no-car status." We believe that:

1. Categories of merchandise are not extremely limited. We offer clothing in styles and price ranges that students most appreciate, footwear, sporting goods, audio equipment and merchandise used at school, home and in leisure-time activies.

2. Prices do not tend to be high. We are competively priced with area mall and Georgetown stores. Prices are not raised in the College Park shopping area. A brief visit to our stores would verify this.

3. We are not taking advantage of students' no-car status. Rides off campus are easily obtained by either friends or the very convenient shuttle bus system. We do not force students to buy from us. Vacations are long and trips home frequent. Students could certainly exercise their buying power elsewhere.

Please give us the factual proof that led you to these conclusions or write a retraction . . . along with an apology . . . for the lack of research that went with this statement.

Ms. vonFrend's letter was signed by more than 30 other merchants, representing the store she manages and 26 others. Ms. Atkins says her statements were based on several years as a student in College Park as well as recent research for the article, and she stands by her conclusions.