Fear Not? SoCal 99 Cents Only Stores Could Be Saved
99 Cents Only Store on Bristol and Warner in Santa Ana. (Daniel Diaz/El Santanero)

BRISTOL/WARNER VILLAGE — Mark J. Miller, the CEO of Pic ‘N Save Bargain and ex-President of Big Lots, is aiming to rescue 143 local 99 Cents Only Stores following the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and the announcement of liquidation for all its stores on Thursday.

In a Thursday press release, the interim CEO of the 99 Cents Only Stores chain attributed the decision to shut down to ongoing issues with COVID-19, changing consumer preferences, and increasing inflation.

Miller, along with investors in which some are past executives from 99 Cents Only Stores, is working to acquire stores all located in Southern California.

In addition to the news of a possible saving grace, the City announced Sunday their Economic Development Division and WORK Center staff contacted managers at both Santa Ana stores.

According to the post, the division contacted the property owners where the 99 Cent stores operate in order to help find new tenants. The WORK center team will be providing “rapid-response services” to those who will be laid off.

Party essentials aisle at the 99 Cents Only Store, bare after shoppers stocked up on the going-out-of-business sale. (Daniel Diaz/El Santanero)

Most stores, including both Santa Ana locations stood bare over the weekend. As if it was Black Friday at the 99.

Dozens of people crowded the store Saturday after updated signage announced discounts of 5-30% regular priced items at the Bristol Warner Marketplace location.

With the store full, there were no spare carts or baskets, but that didn’t deter shoppers. They grabbed laundry baskets, flower pots, stock boxes, anything patrons could find to carry their discounted goods.

“Are you going to buy that?” asked Christina, 99 Cent Store employee to a customer holding a laundry basket.

“I’m sorry, it’s just that there isn’t any carts or anything, said the customer. “I’m not used to this many people being here all at once.

Scattered along the line that stretched from the registers to the frozen food aisle at the back of the store, empty laundry bins and pots demonstrated the community's reliance on the 99, showcasing their commitment to shopping there despite the challenges ahead.

Shoppers carrying their goods the 99. (Daniel Diaz/El Santanero).

For many in the community, the closing of the 99 means the end of cheaper goods from necessities to things you just can’t buy anywhere else for a buck or two.

“I can’t imagine life without the 99,” said Sheryl, shopper. “If you needed something for a barbecue, a baby shower, or back-to-school, the 99 had it.”

With the City’s budget in mind, revenue from sales tax could drop at a faster rate than estimated by City officials, adding to the pressure of maintaining a balanced budget.

One manager confirmed to El Santanero that the Bristol-Warner store is scheduled to officially close by June 3rd, as well as most others (including the north Main Street location).

Miller hopes to close a deal prior to the shutter of many stores.