Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dave Gold Dies at 80; Entrepreneur Behind '99 Cents Only' Chain

By introducing the dollar store concept to middle-class and upscale neighborhoods,  Dave Gold hit gold and expanded the chain to more than 300 stores.

LaTi has the details:
Dave Gold launched his 99 Cents Only Stores empire in Los Angeles at age 50 after mulling over the idea for over a decade.

The thrifty entrepreneur took the dollar store concept and introduced it to middle-class and upscale neighborhoods. In the process, he created a chain that has become a mainstay for families squeezed during hard times or those who simply love a good bargain.

Gold died Monday at his Mid-Wilshire home from an apparent heart attack, said his son, Jeff Gold. He was 80.

Long before dollar stores dotted many street corners, Gold opened the first 99 Cents Only store in Los Angeles in 1982. It was the beginning of a chain that would exceed 300 stores in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

At the time, he'd been working at a liquor store originally started by his father in downtown L.A.'s Grand Central Market. But Gold was itching to try out his deep-discount vision — an entire store full of merchandise priced at 99 cents.

"Whenever I'd put wine or cheese on sale for $1.02 or 98 cents, it never sold out," Gold recalled in a Times interview in 2003. "When I put a 99 cent sign on anything, it was gone in no time. I realized it was a magic number. I thought, wouldn't it be fun to have a store where everything was good quality and everything was 99 cents?"

Family and friends thought the idea was ludicrous. But the City of Commerce-based chain quickly caught on, expanded briskly and in 1996, went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

The chain added a fresh spin to the dollar store concept, which at the time was perceived as retail graveyards for expired or broken products. The 99 Cents Only stores were bigger, brighter and better organized, analysts said, and cultivated a friendly relationship with vendors, sometimes by plying them with bagels and cream cheese.

"My dad really loved the merchandise. He would come home at the end of the day when we were younger and say, 'Look at this beautiful shampoo,'" said his daughter Karen Schiffer. "He would say, 'We have 50 truckloads of this Kleenex coming in.' He would get excited and pass it out to everybody."

His sense of humor was evident in their ads: One congratulated the "Dodgers on Losing 99 Games." Another wished television personality Joan Rivers "Happy 99th Facelift."[...] 
The company was acquired in 2011 by Los Angeles equity firm Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in a deal valued at about $1.6 billion.

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