April 16, 2003 — Madras is really coming up in the world, because the 99 Cent Store is now the Dollar Tree.
All local joking aside, customers have noticed one penny has made a big difference at the 11,000-square-foot store located south of town next to Les Schwab on Highway 97.
Store Manager Bobby Grinder said the Dollar Tree expects to make it where the 99 Cent Store couldn't due to several factors.
"Our quality is better, and we have a larger variety with more to choose from. We focus on seasonal items, have high standards and try to keep things neat and clean," Grinder said.
Dollar Tree Stores Inc. is a growing chain based in Norfolk, Va., with over 2,000 stores nationwide. It has been expanding into Oregon and already has stores in Redmond and Bend.
Grinder said the chain decided to locate in Madras after careful consideration.
"They're trying to populate the area and opening new stores everywhere. They looked in the Prineville and Madras areas for over a year, then this place came open, so they chose this one," Grinder said, noting the store also draws from several outlying communities around Madras.
Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, the new store opened March 31, with 20 employees hired from the Madras area.
Everything in the store costs $1 or less, including, holiday items, dishes, toys, bows and wrapping paper, artificial flowers, kitchen and household items, shampoo and cosmetics, office supplies, some food items, pet supplies and more.
Grinder said they just started carrying helium party balloons, which have been very successful because of the low price.
"We sell a lot of cleaning supplies and name brand foods because people don't have to drive so far to get it if they're looking for a bargain," he said.
Other good sellers are Candle-Lite brand candles, $1 picture frames, and gift items. This spring the store will focus on Mother's Day and group gift items together with baskets so customers can build their own gift basket for Mom. In the summer, the seasonal inventory will shift to swim and water toys.
With their grand opening in progress, Grinder said, "The customer reaction has been very positive. Of course, they compare us to the 99 Cent Store. They're excited we're here and surprised at how much we have and how clean the store is."
While 75 percent of the Dollar Tree's stock stays the same, 25 percent of the merchandise is new and arrives every week, so you never know what bargains you will find.
"We have a lot of people that just shop the store every week to see what new things we've got," Grinder observed.