Retailers offering more for less are becoming supremely popular tenants. Current trends withstanding, Americans still want a big bang for their buck. How else can you explain the increasing popularity of dollar stores — even among those capable of spending much more? The truth is, these retail concepts appeal across many demographic and income levels. Some value stores are among the top companies in the country. You can find them everywhere from urban malls to suburban neighborhood centers as they continue to expand and prosper. In the following pages five such value stores — Great Clips, Save-A-Lot, 99 Cents Only, Dollar Tree, One Price Clothing — share stories of success.

One Price Clothing stores remains one of the top performers in the value clothing arena. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based national chain operates 641 stores all over the world under the One Price & More and BestPrice! Fashions brands. Stores can be found in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. So, what is the one and only price? All merchandise is priced at (or below) the $15 pricepoint. (The One Price name is a hold over from the days when all items were $6.)

“Our focus is on the lower income ethnic customer in the United States,” says Dane Reynolds, senior vice president and CFO. “We're very successful in the Hispanic market and the African American market. Specifically, we address the lower income, ethnic fashion-oriented customer.”

“Our customers have median household incomes of $45,000 or less,” says Archie E. Dishman, vice president of real estate and construction. “Our customer primarily lives in an urban market. So, we operate stores in CBDs such as Chicago, New York City and the boroughs,” he explains. “From a development perspective the most interesting site for us is one that is anchored by a major discounter such as Wal-Mart or Kmart.”

“We don't do any freestanding stores and power centers don't interest us unless there are several different components — one of which is a cluster of small shops around a discounter,” says Dishman. The average store is 4,000 sq. ft., although older prototypes are around 3,000 sq. ft. The largest of the urban-based units measure 10,000 sq. ft.

The chain opened 45 new stores during 2000 while relocating or expanding 20 others. Growth this year is likely to be restrained as the company takes a look at the economy and the spending patterns of its customers.

“In the first half of this year we will open five new stores and we'll do another eight strategic relocations or expansions to increase the selling square footage of our better stores,” says Dishman. “We're a little bit concerned about the consumer behavior that was exhibited in the fourth quarter 2000.” In response, the company plans to be cautious in the number of stores they open in the first two quarters. The retailer hopes to see some evidence of consumer's resuming a more normal spending pattern, says Dishman.

One Price Clothing stores have enjoyed considerable success in building customer loyalty among its value shoppers. While a tightening economy may have slowed the company's growth at the moment, the future looks bright for this segment of the clothing retailer's market.

Contact: Archie Dishman, vice president of real estate and construction, One Price Clothing Stores, Inc., P.O. Box 2487, Spartanburg, S.C. 29304; 864.486.6210.

Randy Southerland is an Atlanta-based writer.