Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

I had never heard of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet until a couple weeks ago, when their initial public stock offering was announced. I was shut out of the IPO, but I was curious about the company and so decided to do some research.

The company was started and is based in Pennsylvania and has grown from there. It is pretty much all east of the Mississippi River right now, but there are plans to expand.

There is no Ollie’s in Lexington. There are two in Louisville and one in Richmond. I’m always interested in a “bargain” so decided to check out the Richmond location. It is on the Eastern Bypass just off I-75 from exit 87.

Ollie’s advertising emphasizes that they buy odd lots of name-brand merchandise and resell at significant savings in their stores.

While there are many “name brand” items in the store, I also found tons of “generic” stuff with brands I had never heard of.

I also was not impressed with the pricing. Items for sale did not appear to be at a significant discount from what they are available at elsewhere. Most items are listed with an “our” and “their” price. Ollie’s prices are often 50% less than the “their” price. In the cases I looked at, the “their” price was more than what a particular item would sell for elsewhere.

Without going to other locations I have no idea whether or not the inventory in all stores is about the same, or if there is a lot of variation. The Richmond store had a very large book section. Since I don’t buy books in stores, I have no idea how their prices compare. This store also seemed to have a lot of carpeting for sale. The amount of clothing items seemed to be fairly minimal.

Ollie’s has a reward program called “Ollie’s Army”. For every $250 you spend at Ollie’s, you earn a coupon for 10% off a purchase.

Bottom line: if you happen to be near an Ollie’s store it’s worth going in to take a look. I don’t see it being worth a special trip, as it doesn’t appear to be much different from other stores such as dollar, outlet and warehouse clubs.

 

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