The wealthy discover 99-cent Only Stores for everyday needs

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Quick quiz. Of its 270-plus stores, which one is 99-cent Only Store's top performer? Give up? It's located on Wilshire Blvd., right next to Beverly Hills.

Yup. Even the rich are following this store's advice to "save more, shop us first." In an interview on Fox Business, Eric Schiffer, CEO of 99-cent Only Stores, says that they have seen a positive increase in same store sales over the last quarter -- 6.2% -- and he believes that this is mainly due to the increase in upscale customers discovering the store's great quality and value for the first time.

When asked how they would retain these new customers after the recession, Schiffer said that there was a very good chance they could keep these customers simply because everyone likes to save money, and the 99-cent Only Stores sell things that people use every day, such as toilet paper, shampoos and basic food items.

Another reason? Better groceries. He emphasized that, unlike other dollar stores, 99-cent Only Stores have always put food first, including great name brands. Also, unlike other bargain retailers, Schiffer says that the store's focus "..has always been on clean, beautiful and attractively-merchandised stores, with the emphasis on clean."

Another fact Schiffer notes is that stores are 20,000 square feet, larger than typical dollar stores. He seemed very confident that the upscale consumer is enjoying his or her shopping experience and that they would be encouraged to keep coming back.

During the interview, Schiffer was asked to name the top five items that people are buying, no matter who they are. He said that, in the past 30 days, that would be 2lbs. of bananas, six-count tomatoes, a dozen grade AA eggs, large cantaloupes and one gallon Crystal Geyser spring water. He held up the latest store flyer from California and pointed out that you can buy a whole pineapple or watermelon for only 99-cents and that there are no limits on how many you can buy, which seems to be another popular feature with customers.

Regular customers come to the 99-cent Only Store first and then go to the market or drug store to fill in the things that 99-cent Only Stores don't carry. Now, new customers are discovering this system.

A year ago, people weren't so concerned about saving money, but with the recession, people are looking for ways to stretch their food dollars and Schiffer says that word of mouth has brought many new customers, including the rich, to the 99-cent Only Store.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decorating using only items from the dollar store.

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