Saving 99 Cents Only stores? Pic ‘N’ Save CEO and former Big Lots president Mark Miller trying to save SoCal locations

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — As shoppers flock to area 99 Cents Only stores to stock up one last time before the doors shutter permanently, there’s an effort underway to save most of the 143 locations in Southern California.

Mark J. Miller, CEO of Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains and former president of Big Lots, is hoping to save the discount chain after the company announced it was closing all stores and winding down its business operations in California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

“It’s a match, that we hope, made in heaven,” he told Eyewitness News.

Miller said he has put together a group of investors, including some former 99 Cents Store executives, to try to acquire the Southern California stores and continue the chain’s commitment to the community.

“What I want to make sure is that yes, there’s a big food business at the 99 Cents stores, and that we continue as far as great goods, great prices… great bargains, great treasure hunt items,” Miller said.

“I want more branded goods at great prices,” he added.

The parking lots are full and the checkout lines are long at 99 Cents Only stores, which are closing for good soon.

For those who rely on the budget prices, it can be the key to making ends meet.

“Closing this down is a big discouragement,” said Juan King. “It’s a sad time because this really means harder times for people who use this to help budget their little bit of finances.”

Miller said he believes they can save the stores by going back to the basics.

“What I hope is going to happen here is that you’re going to see a new, better, more unique 99 Cents store,” he added.

Miller hopes that they’ll be able to strike a deal soon – for both the business and the communities that rely on the stores.

In addition to the effort to reopen some stores, two Southland elected officials are exploring options to provide support for employees who will soon find themselves out of work.

Los Angeles City Councilman Tim McOsker said he has been in communication with the city’s Economic Workforce Development Department and asked them to deploy a rapid response team to provide these workers with a range of resources including assistance with unemployment insurance benefits and help finding new jobs.

“We will do our best to mitigate the negative impacts of these layoffs and to support the workers, their families and our communities,” McOsker said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she would introduce a motion during Tuesday’s board meeting asking for a report on ways the county can provide support for displaced workers from the chain.

“I am worried about the thousands of 99 Cents Store workers across L.A. County who are going to lose their jobs, but L.A. County is ready to help,” Hahn said in a statement Friday. “We have a department that can step in during an event like this and help workers with not only short-term assistance to get through this difficult time, but job training and support to help them get a better job.”

Her motion will request a report within 60 days from the county departments of Economic Opportunity and Consumer and Business Affairs.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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