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By Stephen Hadland
Culver City Observer Editor & Publisher 

99 Cents Only Stores Closing Down For Good, Files for Bankruptcy

Sad Day for the Bargain Hunters

 

April 11, 2024

999 cents only stores announced on Thursday, April 7, it is going through a "wind-down" of business operations. The shutdown will impact all 371 store locations, the company wrote in a statement.

In a related move the99 Cents Only filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on Sunday, saying that it intended to close all of its 371 stores in the U.S. and sell off its real estate and remaining inventory.

"This was an extremely difficult decision and is not the outcome we expected or hoped to achieve," said the company's interim CEO Mike Simoncic. "Unfortunately, the last several years have presented significant and lasting challenges in the retail environment, including the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting consumer demand, rising levels of shrink, persistent inflationary pressures and other macroeconomic headwinds, all of which have greatly hindered the Company's ability to operate. We deeply appreciate the dedicated employees, customers, partners, and communities who have collectively supported 99 Cents Only Stores for decades."

The stores date back to the 1960s when the company's founder, Dave Gold, inherited a tiny liquor store in downtown Los Angeles and decided to run a test by selling bottles of wine at a fixed price-point of 99 cents. The test was an instant success. Dave thought selling everything in the store for 99 cents would be hugely popular.

I remember when Dave Gold opened the first 99 cents Only Store in Westchester over 25 years ago. I thought how in the world can you make any money selling things for 99 cents? Well Dave showed us all. Last year the company, with 315 stores, sold for $1.6 billion.

If you saw Dave and his wife Shelia on the street you wouldn’t think they had 99 cents in their pocket. Dave never “dressed for success,” he just was success. I watched him build an empire from a small warehouse where executive meetings were held on the floor of the warehouse showroom. He had an uncanny knack to figure things out. I once heard him comment in a meeting that he knew a store manager was stealing because all the bank deposits from that store where in even amounts.

When a new store opened, Dave, his family and top managers from the main office were there to help stock the selves. Yes he even put me to work stocking shelves one opening day.

By 1996, there were more than 30 99¢ Only stores scattered throughout the Los Angeles area, with annual sales topping $2.9 billion.

With the proceeds raised through the IPO, Gold opened a number of new stores before the end of the year, giving the company a total of more than 40 stores as it entered 1997, this quote was taken from the Denver Post.

Officially were ere told Dave died of a heart attack, but those who know him know better, he died of a broken heart after losing control of the company he loved and founded.

He loved the vendors who sold to him. The sign above the corporate offices read “Through these portals walk the finest Vendors in the World. I would watch him negotiate over pennies on both small and large purchases for his stores. It didn’t matter if it was one pallet or 20 semi truckloads of merchandise, he wanted the beast price and he knew what he was willing to pay. Then when the deal was done he would sent the salesman off to accounting to pick up his check. He lived by the old motto, “bargain like a gypsy but pay like a gentleman.”

In 1989 Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson made the movie “Dad,” I was asked for a copy of the Culver City Newspaper for a prop so Lemmon could be seen cutting coupons out of the local newspaper. We asked the studio for a still with the newspaper in it. The photo showed Lemmon and Danson sitting at the table with the 99 Cents Only Stores ad showing. I had two copies enlarged, framed, and presented one to Dave. The last time I visited him it adorned a wall in the corporate boardroom.

Fully stocked shelves

When Wayne Gretsky came to the play for the L.A. Kings his jersey was number 99. Dave took out a full page ad announcing that 99 cents Only Stores was proudly welcoming number 99 to Los Angeles. He did the same when George Burns turned 99 years old. One ad even congratulated the Dodgers on losing 99 games.

The stores, some of which had been around since the beginning in 1982, are expected to shut down as soon as April 5 for some spots. The company has 99 Cents Only store locations across California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

While I’m certain this is tough for the 14,000 people who o are losing their livelihood , it hits me too. Dave advertised his store in my newspaper. I believe he was fond of mr because he said that I never raised his rates.

It’s a sad day for the less fortunate in our society who depend on stores like the 99 cents only stores to cover their families expenses.

r their families expenses.

 

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