While dollar store locations have spread far beyond lower-income communities, 99 Cents Only is causing a stir by seeking to open a flagship location on Rodeo Drive.
"Our best store by far is on Wilshire Blvd, two or three blocks from Beverly Hills. That store does incredible volume," 99 Cents Only CEO Eric Schiffer told the The Courier in Beverly Hills. "For many years our customers have been asking us to please open in Beverly Hills and what better spot than Rodeo Drive?"
Beverly Hills Planning Commission Vice Chair Brian Rosenstein called it a "wonderful publicity stunt," but didn't think a landlord with tenants like Chanel and Louis Vuitton would support a dollar store.
"That doesn't mean 99 Cents Only Store isn't appropriate for Beverly Hills, but Rodeo Drive is known for it's luxury and elegance and I don't quite think a 99 Cent store blends in there," Mr. Rosenstein told The Courier.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Schiffer said a recently-opened location on Santa Barbara's high-end State Street is also thriving. Affluent consumers likewise enjoy the thrill of steep savings on name brand products and organic produce the 300-unit chain attains from overstocks.
"We buy name brands like Wolfgang Puck, we have Jamba Juice items, Toblerone candy bars," Mr. Schiffer told the LA Times. "Some customers don't recognize the gourmet items, but someone who values and knows the brand gets excited because they are getting a $4 item for less."
While the major chain dollar stores such as Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar are finding ample room to aggressively expand, local community protests of pending dollar store openings are still common, often centered on the impact on property values.
But a July report from Consumer Reports based on a survey of 1,500 women found dollar chains attracting wide range of customers — including those making more than $75,000 a year — with their "convenient and fun" experience. Not only are dollar stores better organized and designed to help shoppers get in-and-out more quickly than in the past, they're carrying more national brands and groceries. The "fun" part comes because they're "a bit like being on a treasure hunt — they carry a wide and ever-changing stock of goodies."
What's the likelihood that dollar stores will be open and succeed in more and more upscale areas in the years ahead?