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Company: 99 Cents Only Stores

99 Cents Only Stores a leading operator of extreme value retail stores. The company has stores in California, Texas, Arizona  and Nevada. The company’s typical store is larger, at approximately 21,000 square feet, than most of its competitors’ stores. 99 Cents Only Stores also typically offer consumable items on a more regular basis than other stores in its industry, which the company believes contributes to more repeat customers.

In 2013, 99 Cents Only Stores employed over 13,700 people and generated annual revenues of approximately $1.7 billion.

Year Founded: 1982 Number of Locations: 311

Trade Names (# of locations)

99 Cents Only Store (311)

Early Years and Growth

In 1982, Dave Gold opened the first 99 Cents Only Store in Los Angeles, California on Friday the 13th. Gold showed early signs of innovative marketing when he sold television sets for only 99 cents to the store’s first 9 customers. The promotion created huge store traffic and generated lots of buzz about the company and the company continues to offer televisions and other typically high priced products for 99 cents at store grand openings.

In 1996, 99 Cents Only Stores issued its initial public offering (IPO). At that time, the company had more than 30 locations in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and its annual sales were approximately $150 million.

In 1999, the company got massive publicity when a picture taken by famous German photographer, Andreas Gursky, of the inside of the 99 Cents Only store in Hollywood appeared in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The photograph was later sold for over $3 million, which was a record sales price for a photograph at the time.

In 2007, 99 Cents Only Stores instituted a new pricing policy to allow for products priced below 99 cents. The company’s senior management believed this would help the company manage pricing and inventory management of certain items that didn’t fit the 99 cent price point.

In 2008, 99 Cents Only Stores took a page from the playbook of the gas station industry and implemented a pricing policy to allow some items to be priced at 99.99 cents. This was the first time the company had ever raised prices. That same year, the company announced it would exit the Texas market and close all its stores in the state.

In 2008, 99 Cents Only Stores senior management decided to keep its presence in Texas, but with a dramatically smaller footprint. The company announced it would close only about a third of its Texas stores.

In 2012, 99 Cents Only Stores was acquired by Ares Management, a private equity firm. With the company once again privately held its owners had much more flexibility with strategies it could employ at the company. At that time, company founder David Gold and some of his family were still involved with the company’s management.

In 2013, 99 Cents Only Stores laid off over 170 employees and the company’s founder and his family members ended their affiliation with the company. That same year, the company opened 19 new stores.


Headquarter City: Commerce, Commerce, California

Targeted Consumer

99 Cents Only Stores targets low income and high income consumers. Because of its merchandise mix, the company’s management believes it can continue to attract higher income consumers than its competitors.

Work Environment

Reviews on Glassdoor.com

The 53 reviews on Glassdoor.com show the company gets an overall 2.5 out of 5 stars and 31% of employees recommend the company to a friend. Of all the categories rated, career opportunities received the most stars, at 2.5 out of 5.

Approximately 63% of reviewers approve of the company's CEO.

According to reviews, the company has several jobs that pay better than the industry average, including:

Store Manager:  $72K

Assistant Store Manager-Hourly: $13/hour

Cashier-Hourly: $8/hour

In addition to competitive pay, the company offers its employees a 401(k) plan with company match.

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