By Edwin Folven, 10/18/2012
Shoppers on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive are used to high-end stores like Gucci, Cartier, Giorgio Armani and Tiffany & Co. Now, 99 Cents Only Stores wants to make the street a destination for bargain hunters as well.
The retailer’s management has announced the company is looking for a space on the three-block Rodeo Drive for a new store, and they believe it would be the ideal location to serve Beverly Hills residents. Currently, residents must travel a few blocks east of the city’s border to take advantage of the 99-cent bargains. The 99 Cents Only Stores location at 6121 Wilshire Blvd. is the chain’s highest grossing store, with annual sales of more than $10 million. Many of the store’s customers are willing to make the trek outside the city to save money, the company’s CEO, CEO Eric Schiffer, said.
“Our cashiers see the customers addresses on their drivers licenses — a lot of them come from Beverly Hills,” he said. “Everybody loves bargains on quality items, especially rich people. That’s how many of them got rich.”
Not everyone is sold on the idea, however.
“It is safe to say that we don’t think 99 Cents Stores is a good fit for Rodeo Drive,” said Therese Kosterman, a spokeswoman for the city of Beverly Hills. “Rodeo Drive symbolizes luxury. The stores on Rodeo Drive are the top stores in the world of jewelry, design and fashion. There are other parts of the city with stores with lower price points. There are other parts of the city where it would fit better.”
Kosterman said the city is currently attempting to redevelop the areas near Robertson Boulevard and Pico and Olympic boulevards, and cited that area as an example of a better location for a 99 Cents Only store. She said the city owns a handful of properties on Rodeo Drive, and none are currently vacant. She added that the vacancy rate is “very low” along Rodeo Drive, and she knew of no available spaces on the street that could accommodate a 99 Cents Only store.
Jeff Gold, president of the 99 Cents Only Stores, said a move to an upscale shopping district like Rodeo Drive is not unprecedented. The chain recently opened a store in Santa Barbara on State Street, near shops like Saks Fifth Avenue, and the new location has been very successful, he said.
“We would expect that a good location on Rodeo Drive could potentially be our highest sales volume store, and we would certainly sell significantly more product at our 99 Cents Only Stores than any other merchant on Rodeo Drive,” Gold said in a statement. “We cater to all demographic groups, both ultra-high income and the ninety-nine percent as well, and we have an extremely strong financial statement. In these challenging economic times, we think our strong offerings and brand image would surely help enhance and build the already strong reputation and brand image for Rodeo Drive and the other fine businesses that operate there.”
The Beverly Hills location would be the chain’s flagship store, and it could boost sales for nearby retailers by attracting more customers to the area, Gold said. Schiffer said the opening alone could bring in a large volume of customers.
“We’re willing to share a location with Gucci, Louis Vuitton,” Schiffer said. “When we open our new stores, we have a promotion where we sell TV sets for ninety-nine cents. People line up for blocks. Imagine the crowd on Rodeo Drive.”
The company is currently in the process of finding a suitable location on the tony avenue.
“We are quite serious. We would love to open a store on Rodeo Drive, and we are not doing this to prove a point, other than that 99 Cents Only Stores is a tremendous destination for values on quality everyday household needs, for everyone … not just the ninety-nine percent.”
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