Dave Gold, the founder of the 99 Cents Only Stores empire, died on Monday at his home in Mid-Wilshire. The thrifty entrepreneur launched his business at age 50 after considering the idea for more than 10 years.
He took the dollar store concept and introduced it to middle and upper-class neighborhoods. In the process, Gold was able to create a chain of stores that has since become a mainstay for families struggling during hard times as well as those just looking to save money.
Gold opened the first 99 Cents Only store in Los Angeles in 1982, well before dollar stores dotted the street corners. That store was the first of more than 300 that cropped up in California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.
At the time he founded the business empire, Dave Gold was working at a liquor store founded by his father in downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. Despite the steady job, all Gold wanted was to try out his vision of an entire store full of merchandise priced at 99 cents. The entrepreneur recalled in 2003:
“Whenever I’d put wine of cheese on sale for $1.02 or 98 cents, it never sold out. When I put a 99 cent sign on anything, it was gone in no time. I realized it was a magic number. It thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have a store where everything was good quality and everything was 99 cents?”
Despite the lack of support he received from his family, Dave Gold went ahead with the plan. He made his stores bigger, brighter, and better organized than his competitors. The chain eventually became a family enterprise with Gold’s three children and son-in-law working for 99 Cents Only Stores in some capacity.
The company sold in 2011 for about $1.6 billion. Despite becoming a multimillionaire, Dave Gold lived modestly. His family revealed that he lived in the same middle-class home for almost 50 years with Sherry, his wife of 55 years. He also drove the same Toyota Prius he bought in 2000.
Dave Gold died of a heart attack. Funeral arrangements have not been released.
[Image via Downtowngal]