The 99 cent store: The 99 percent store: ‘We’re in the midst of an economic crisis’: What you need to know about the rise and fall of the 99%
Posted On August 2, 2021
On Friday, a reporter in New York City asked if the 99 percent was in the process of closing.
“It will definitely be closed,” he said.
“We’re going to have to be more careful.”
This wasn’t the first time this week the 99-cent store had faced such a question.
On Thursday, New York Times columnist Michael Lewis asked if it was “a fair assumption that the retail sector in general will have to close, if not permanently.”
The question was posed by reporter David Auerbach in a column about a bill that would make it a felony to sell “any kind of counterfeit, altered, or misappropriated” products at 99 cents on the dollar.
He added that 99-cents is “the best value you can pay for anything you can buy at a grocery store, and it’s a great way to make ends meet.”
The bill would make counterfeiting illegal, which it is.
Lewis wrote that it’s “not the first attempt to crack down on counterfeiting, but it’s the first that has succeeded in the face of a strong and growing opposition from consumer advocates.”
He quoted Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) as saying that “the 99 percent will be out in force” if it passes the bill.
“If the 99 per cent can’t go to work and pay taxes and get a job and be able to afford the things that they’re willing to pay for, then it’s going to be very hard to sustain that,” he added.
It’s a line that Lewis has repeated in several other articles and radio and television appearances.
On Friday morning, Lewis wrote in his column that the 99 cents store was “narrowly focused on its core business, which is selling 99-percenters’ groceries.”
He cited the company’s CEO, John Buhle, who said it is “committed to providing excellent quality at the lowest price and serving our loyal customers at the highest standard of service.”
Lewis said that while “the overall sales of the store are down,” the store’s revenue is up by 25 percent.
“The 99 percenters are the ones that have been getting all of this attention,” Lewis wrote.
“That’s not to say that the store is a terrible place to be.
They are very successful.”
But the 97 percenters have been the most vocal about their displeasure with the sale of 99-per-centers’ products, Lewis said.
As the New York Post reported on Friday, some of the biggest beneficiaries of the 97-cent tax would be the 99%-ers themselves.
“These folks aren’t just selling cheap groceries,” Lewis said on MSNBC.
“They’re also buying a large number of goods that are very expensive for 99 cents.”
Lewis concluded that the bill would “destroy the 99 cent economy.”
In an interview with the New Republic, Buhl said the bill is aimed at protecting the interests of “the middle class.”
He said the legislation would “ensure that the prices are low enough that 99 cents will never be a viable price point for 99 percenter groceries, but they are high enough to discourage 99 percent shoppers from going to the stores.”
The legislation has faced opposition from both the 99 and the 97 per centers.
According to a survey from The New York Business Journal, 89 percent of the respondents said they “strongly disapprove” of the bill and 70 percent said they were “very” or “somewhat” opposed.
Buhler said that 97 percenter grocery sales are growing at a “substantially higher rate” than the 99%.
But that’s not what the bill has been about.
The bill’s supporters argue that it will help the 99, because 99- and 99-%ers are buying cheaper groceries and services.
The 99- percenters argue that 97- and 97-percenter grocery stores will remain closed.
“99-cent stores are a disaster for the economy,” Lewis noted.
The two groups of customers are “getting screwed.”
But even Lewis’ allies concede that 97%ers will have a better time shopping at 99-Cent stores if the tax is repealed.
“In the 99.7 percenters’ case, 99-Cents is the best value they can pay,” Lewis told the New Yorker.
“And if 99- cents has to close its doors, that’s great news for the 99.”
In response to the legislation, the 97%er grocery store owners said they are disappointed.
“For the last five years, we have spent thousands of hours with these representatives in Washington trying to find a solution,” said Mark Dennison, who owns the 99 Cent grocery store in Omaha, Nebraska.
“As of now, no solution is being offered by the 99 [centers] or by the 97 [center] to