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5 new things going on at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

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5 new things going on at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet
Image Credit: Isaac Wedin/Flickr
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Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is the kind of closeout retailer that sometimes flies under the radar.

But it shouldn’t!

With 246 stores in 20 states, Ollie’s is slowly expanding its geographic footprint to more and more states. And it’s bringing its beloved mix of major name-brand goods, manufacturer refurbs, irregulars, excess inventory and salvage merchandise along with it.

Here’s what’s new at Ollie’s

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc (OLLI) Harrisburg, PA., is on a tear right now with comparable store sales up 1.7% for the first quarter ended April 29. Meanwhile, total net sales increased 17.5% to $227.6 million during that same period.

Below we’ve curated some interesting news nuggets that Ollie’s management revealed during an earnings call with analysts on May 31.

1. More store openings are on the way

Ollie’s is aggressively expanding following the opening of five new stores during the first quarter (including their first store in Rhode Island!), along with nine other new stores that went live in the early days of May.

“Our new stores continue to perform very well and above expectations,” President and CEO Mark Butler says. “We feel good about our ability to open new stores and we’re on-track to open 33 to 35 stores in fiscal 2017.”

These stores are coming soon

  • Sylacauga, AL – Grand Opening 6/14/17
  • Lexington, KY -Grand Opening 6/28/17
  • Jacksonville (West), FL – Grand Opening 6/28/17

Recent store launches

  • Dover, OH – NOW OPEN!
  • Zephryhills, FL – NOW OPEN!
  • Pensacola, FL – NOW OPEN!
  • McKeesport, PA – NOW OPEN!
  • Kissimmee, FL – NOW OPEN!
  • Woonsocket, RI – NOW OPEN!
  • Cookeville, TN – NOW OPEN!
  • Madison, TN – NOW OPEN!
  • Homosassa, FL – NOW OPEN!
  • Dunbar, WV – NOW OPEN!
  • Avon Park, FL – NOW OPEN!
  • Roanoke Rapids, NC – NOW OPEN!
  • Hudson, FL – NOW OPEN!
  • Palatka, FL – NOW OPEN!

2. Ollie’s Army is growing

Ollie’s wants you…to join Ollie’s Army! That’s what the closeout chain calls its loyalty program, which expanded to include nearly 8 million members by the end of the first quarter.

“Membership grew at a normal rate of about 29% year-over-year with regards to the overall new members,” Executive Vice President and CFO John Swygert revealed. “The members continue to spend about 40% more than the non-members and their visits are still maintained where they’ve been.”

Enlistees get one point for every dollar they spend. After accumulating 250 points, Ollie’s will send you a certificate for 10% off one purchase. You’ll also get periodic emails announcing upcoming deals and events, in addition to special discounts that will be mailed to you during the year.

The members of Ollie’s Army are a dedicated bunch. Butler says sales from this group alone accounts for some 65% of the company’s business.

3. Smaller and larger store sizes may be coming

The average Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is anywhere from 30,000 to 33,000 square feet in size. But the company isn’t afraid to play around with that commercial footprint, which gives it a lot of options when it comes to signing leases with landlords.

“We can go down to 25,000 square feet and we can go up to 40,000 or 45,000 square feet, if we choose so,” Butler told analysts. “That flexibility allows us to have more availability and more choices on the real estate side.”

Swygert, meanwhile, says Ollie’s will gladly scale down its floor plan if management finds a location it likes.

“We’ve also opened up a store [that’s] probably in the mid-20s,” the CFO says. “We did like that site and you know, that is one of the smaller stores.”

4. Ollie’s knows how to balance the treasure hunt with the consistency of carrying brands you trust everyday

Ollie’s is the place for you if you like big-name health & beauty brands like Vidal Sassoon, Remington, Revlon, Dial, Conair, SoftSoap, Johnson & Johnson and Bed Head.

At the same time, Ollie’s management also knows that shoppers crave the “treasure hunt” aspect of digging through inventory that’s constantly turning over every few days. They love that they never know what they’ll find!

Thankfully, Ollie’s thinks it’s found the perfect balance between keeping customers guessing and being able to stock what they want, when they want it.

“If you come into our store and you see a name brand shampoo…our customer knows that it’s here today and it’s gone tomorrow,” Butler says. “So you might not find that same shampoo in our store next week, but you might find another shampoo that [a] major manufacturer makes or another competitive consumer-packaged goods company would make.”

5. More closeout opportunities are coming, but the store won’t stray too far from its roots

The struggles a lot of other retailers are facing have been well-documented. Everyone from footwear sellers like Payless and Crocs to department stores like Macy’s and Sears are faltering.

In theory, that creates an opportunistic buying climate for a closeout king like Ollie’s. Yet management is approaching the new reality in retail with an eye toward what’s already proven to work.

“Would we buy footwear? Would we buy apparel?” Butler mused aloud when the question was posed by an analyst.

His answer was cautious at best: “Very selectively, but that’s not our main business — our main business is hard goods.”

Read more: 5 big changes coming to Dollar General in 2017

11 things you should not buy at a warehouse club

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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