by Bonny Styles
(Austin, Texas, USA)
We’re all familiar with inexpensive variety stores that have been around as long as you can remember probably. Originally, there was the five and dime or just the dime store and most everything there was a nickel or a dime. However, inflation couldn’t keep its nose out of our lives and forced prices to go higher. And remember, five cents back in those days would be worth over a dollar today.
Now we have the dollar stores which are a little misleading even though some things sell for a dollar or less but others multiples of a dollar. They sell things such as cleaning supplies, toys, pet supplies,ironing boards, garden tools, candy and food that’s in a can.
Most products are sold for less than at a general retail store but it’s best to know your prices before you go in. Some products are generic or private label brand made specifically for that company.
Other merchandise is purchased from another store that has had an overstock or close-out sale. You might find items that were manufactured for a special promotion or event and are now out of date or sales have slowed too much to keep it in stock.
Wouldn’t it be nice if a dollar store sold fresh food? Enter the 99 cents only stores where nothing is over 99 cents…ever. Well, that’s what they say. This chain was founded in 1982 and now boasts more than 260 stores in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas. Their total sales for fiscal year 2006 totaled one billion dollars.
They claim to be the oldest single price retail chain in the country offering deep discounts on primarily new name brand merchandise. The good news is some of their sales include fresh produce, a deli, frozen foods and occasionally fresh meat.
The deli features mostly cold cuts. This is in addition to canned goods and other basic grocery items, plus health and beauty aids. The inventory varies and not everything is name brand.
Recent ads for produce include cantaloupe for 99 cents, pound and a half of plums for 99 cents, dozen eggs 99 cents, milk 32 ounces for 99 cents and five pounds of potatoes for 99 cents. Even a large watermelon for, yes, 99 cents. By the way, the ad didn’t say what size the eggs were. And, some wine snobs are enjoying their 99 cent wine.
These kinds of stores, until recently, were thought of as being in low income areas and shopped by low income people who didn’t mind some off brand merchandise if they could save money. If that were ever true, that’s changed with the spiraling cost of food and gasoline. Now, we’re all looking for a bargain.
The 99 cents only stores pride themselves on having a clean store with friendly, personal service. Shelves are fully and neatly stocked, aisles are wide and the total environment is fresh and pleasant.
They even offer more help with a 99 cent only cookbook: gourmet recipes at discount prices. If you live in one of the above four states and are trying to trim your food budget it might be worth your gas to shop and see what all you can get for 99 cents.