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  • Writer's pictureJulian Guerrero

The End of An Era, Or 99 Cents

Almost everyone in the Southwest United States has at least heard of the 99 Cents Only store, if they haven’t shopped there themselves. It should come as no surprise to us all that they are closing down all of their operations.1 Note however that this is not concrete as of yet and there is a possibility of this chain being acquired, at least in Southern California.2

So let’s take a look at why exactly this happened. Well, the answer is really quite simple. As AP has stated citing 99 Cents Only executives, it was COVID, theft, and inflation.3 COVID dealt a hefty blow to their already declining number of customers; thefts spiked during the pandemic and never went down; and rising inflation forced a spike in prices that drove away their dwindling customer base. Less money coming in means they run on a deficit which in turn looks bad to investors. Simply put, they couldn’t rebound from the pandemic.

These chains were important to communities of color for the longest time. It was where economically disadvantaged people would go to get things that they needed and commodities they wanted. This status had of course been eroded steadily as they continued to spike their prices and alienate their customer base, but its legacy as a provider to these communities will likely outlive that. However, the end of this chain goes beyond just its impact to communities of color in California.

As many are (or ought to be) aware, there is a current saturation in entry-level jobs such as retail and especially fast-food. There don’t seem to be many news outlets reporting on this but you’ll find many people online such as Redditor u/the_one_who_boil have noticed that it’s getting increasingly more difficult to land so much as a job interview, let alone a job. The reason for this is that following the Quarantine, many people (especially older people) found that they weren’t making enough money on retirement anymore. Thus, they came out of it and took jobs that otherwise go to college and high school employees. This has really messed up the chances of people being able to find jobs (including myself.)  The 99 Cents Only stores supplied jobs to many people across 4 different states, and now that they’re gone, there will be thousands of people left without jobs. They have 14,000 employees as of 2024 who might soon be out of a job. Should this happen, it will undoubtedly leave a dent in local economies.

There is a possibility however that the situation will improve, depending on how Mark J. Miller (former Pic n’ Save CEO) efforts turn out.4 Stay tuned for further developments.

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