Those of us who've lived in New England may be familiar with deep-discounters like Building 19 or Ocean State Job Lot -- big box stores that offer discount prices on overstocks, slightly defective items, merchandise purchased out of bankruptcy situations or, in some cases, literal fire sales. ("The warehouse caught on fire, but these items are fine!")
These stores fill a quirky niche in retail; they offer deep discounts but tend to have some pull across the economic spectrum. After all, people just love a bargain, and these retailers give an outlet for that garage-sale mentality seven days a week.
Still, such stores typically find their way to points of economic opportunity, spaces that come on market and might be hard to fill.
That's almost the dictionary definition of the former Harris Teeter store at the Willowdaile shopping center at Guess Rd. and Horton Rd. in north Durham. With a brand-new H-Teet across Horton on the site of the old movie theater and a Food Lion across Guess, there's no appetite for another grocer to fill the 28,000 sq. ft. pad that Harris Teeter once had.
Into that space, it would appear, enters Ollie's Bargain Outlet, a Pennsylvania-based firm that's, by its own description, "the Mid-Atlantic’s largest retailer of closeout, surplus, and salvage merchandise."
An eagle-eyed BCR reader points out that the website of Willowdaile Shopping Center owner Equity One now shows that the H-Teet space is no longer for lease, instead listing Ollie's Bargain Outlet as the tenant for that space.
A building permit request for Ollie's was also filed with local government officials on Feb. 18, though the permit hasn't yet been approved.
The space is certainly the right size for an Ollie's, whose web site describes the firm's stores as ranging "from 28,000 to 40,000 square feet," without much in the way of accoutrement required -- "give us a vanilla box and a concrete floor," their real estate page notes.
Ollie's has expanded to North Carolina in recent years. The Cary Towne Center area has a store, as do cities like Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville and the Metrolina region.
And the company's web site notes Durham as a "where we're coming next" site for expansion, along with other Mid-Atlantic states, Ohio and New York.
What's to expect? According to Ollie's web site:
You’ll find lots of famous brand name goods in every department, like housewares from Rubbermaid, Mirro, Ekco, and Anchor Hocking, toys from Mattel, or sporting goods from Igloo. Ollie’s buyers scour the world looking for closeouts, overstocks, package changes, manufacturer refurbs, and irregulars.
Much of the merchandise comes direct from the finest manufacturers in the country and abroad. For instance, if a manufacturer makes too much of an item, or changes their packaging — Ollie’s will buy the discontinued or overstock items. So you will always find famous brand name products at Ollie’s...but it could be last year’s color or pattern that traditional retailers won’t sell.
We also work with insurance companies to buy salvage merchandise. If a store in your neighborhood has a fire, Ollie’s may purchase the inventory and put it in our stores at drastically reduced prices! Yes there may be a little smoke on the stuff, but it’ll be so cheap that you won’t mind!
Ollie’s has also liquidated major retail centers, working very closely with financial institutions. When companies liquidate, the bank will often dispose of the remaining inventory and turn it in to cash. Ollie’s brings the goods back to our stores, or runs the liquidation sale on site.
No word on an opening date for Ollie's, though the firm's site notes that given their minimal upfit requirements for their "semi-lovely stores," they typically work to open their doors within three months of taking site possession.