Bargain seekers pack opening at Ollie’s Outlet in Toms River

August 22, 2018

By David P. Willis | Asbury Park Press

The line of bargain hunters waiting to get inside for the first day of shopping at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet filled the sidewalk along one side of the store and around a corner.

Ollie’s, which has six stores in New Jersey, opened its first discount store in Monmouth or Ocean counties on Wednesday, filling up a big part of an old Pathmark at Indian Head Plaza in Toms River.

Once the doors opened at 9 a.m., customers packed the place, moving with carts in aisles, navigating around each other and around large displays that contain everything from rugs and floor tiles to apparel, food and toys.

“It’s really awesome,” said Toms River resident Ashley Mitchell, spotting some name-brand items at prices that are cheaper than she’s used to. “There are some really good deals,” she said. “I would definitely shop here. I just said to my mom this place is going to be busy all the time.”

Haven’t been to an Ollie’s? Here’s what you need to know:

It’s a national deep discount chain.

The company has 285 stores nationwide, including locations in Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton, Cherry Hill, Bridgeton and Deptford.

Its motto is Good Stuff Cheap.

“We sell brand name products at 40 to 60 percent off those fancy retailers,” said Scott Osborne, director of stores at Ollie’s. “The dollar for the American consumer stretches a lot further at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.”

How can it offer low prices?

The company’s buyers scour the market looking for close-outs, liquidations, excess inventory and salvage inventory. It could be that a large toy retailer, like Toys R Us, goes out of business leaving manufacturers with a lot of toys in their warehouse. Maybe a company changes a product’s label or package size and needs to shed what they have left.

“A bad situation for one retailer might be a good situation for Ollie’s,” Osborne said. “Our buyers go out there, wheel and deal, and make a great deal.”

The inventory at Ollie’s changes.

Its 22 departments sell everything from housewares, food, flooring and toys to electronics, clothing, health and beauty supplies and sporting goods. Osborne calls it a treasure hunt. “If you see it and you like and you like the price, put it in your cart.”

There are no special sales or extra low price on days like Black Friday.

“We don’t have sales,” Osborne said. “Our price is our price. Here today. Gone tomorrow.”

Ollie’s low prices resonate with consumers who are facing higher living expenses along with higher consumer debt and student loans, said retail analyst Burt Flickinger III, managing director at Strategic Resource Group in New York City.

“The only place people can try to save a few thousand a year is with the off-price players” like Ollie’s, he said.

Ollie’s prices are consistently lower than online retailers like Amazon. There’s no paying for Amazon Prime and customers can feel and touch the items, he said. “They know it is high quality goods at some of the lowest prices in America,” he said.