Las Vegas Sun

January 24, 2018

Currently: 43° — Complete forecast

J. Patrick Coolican:

TVs, home goods, Gatorade and wisdom — all 99 cents at Henderson store


Leila Navidi

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen cuts the ribbon during the opening of the 299th 99‌¢ Only Store in Henderson on Thursday, May 24, 2012.

299th 99 Cent Only Store

Debra Openhein of Henderson gets a 99-cent scooter for being one of the first 99 customers at the opening of the 299th 99‌¢ Only Store in Henderson on Thursday, May 24, 2012. Launch slideshow »
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

Regina Burns got in line for Thursday’s grand opening of the 99¢ Only Store on Wednesday at 2:30 a.m.

She spent 30 hours out front, securing a spot as one of the first nine customers, each of whom had the chance to buy a 22-inch flat-screen television for, yes, 99 cents.

Even though Burns wasn’t first in line — Efrain Ayala was first, six hours prior — she was still ecstatic.

“I am so stoked right now. Absolutely elated! Where you going to get a flat-screen TV for 99 cents?” Burns asked.

She said she was a little delirious from not sleeping since she began her vigil.

The TV in question goes for $199.99 on Amazon, which sort of means Burns got paid $6.67 per hour to hang out in front of the store, which is on Boulder Highway in Henderson and is the company’s 299th. You have to admire her dedication.

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen certainly did.

“So, you guys stood in line for two days?” he asked, seeming a little befuddled.

“Yeah! And we’d stand in line for another day!” one responded.

At one time, a mayor would appear with a golden shovel in front of a new factory or park, or in Southern Nevada, a new casino.

These days, we’ll celebrate anything we can.

Hundreds showed up for the bash. They were met with streamers and balloons and the Basic High School Marching Band, which played Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

Rah rah ah ah ah ...

I want your ugly. I want your disease.

I want your everything, as long as it’s free.

The company donated $499.99 to the band.

Hafen had a certificate for the company and said Henderson “looked forward to a long relationship with this store.”

He used the classic oversized scissors to cut the ribbon. Let the shopping begin!

The crowd streamed in. After the magical first nine, the next 99 could buy a scooter for 99 cents. Debra Openhein was in line at 4 a.m. so she could get a scooter for her grandson’s birthday. He’s only in kindergarten, but he can already write in cursive, she said proudly.

After the first 108, the next 99 customers could buy “automatic powered scissors” for 99 cents. Using scissors is quite taxing, so this is an invention a long time coming.

The ad copy on the flier said, “Wow!” and, “Cordless!”

But do the automatic scissors require a cord of some kind?


Here’s what you have to admire: 99¢ Only Stores are a remarkable achievement of inflation-slaying global capitalism. Plates and glasses, cereal, toys, decorations, paper products, Gatorade Frost Glacier Freeze powdered mix (that’s the one that’s the color of Windex).

All 99 cents, though some items are even less.

I tried a little experiment, picking up random items to see how long it would take before I found a product not made in China.

Disney Tinker Bell puzzle. Made in Shenzhen, China. Curious George — favorite books of my youth — flip flops. Made in Fuzhou, China. 6-in-1 screwdriver. China. Green beach bucket. Zhejiang, China. A spatula for your grill, tennis balls, plates. China. Even the American flag in a display of Memorial Day decorations. China.

“Comfort Socks,” “Recommended for Diabetics,” made in Pakistan, America’s best frienemy.

Finally, “Fresh Lavender Scent Ammonia.” Made in the USA.

I don’t know about you, but I like to sprinkle a little ammonia on my clothes and neck in the morning for that nice, lavender scent.

My favorite part of the store is the poster that rests high on a wall. It’s a photo taken by Andreas Gursky and once displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It highlights 99¢ Only’s bright, cheery displays, specifically the candy aisle. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the photo is meant to lampoon, rather than celebrate, the store. It once graced the cover of Harper’s Magazine and was paired with an essay entitled, “The Numbing of the American Mind.”

So I suspect the decision to hang the photo in the store is an inside joke among the company’s marketing executives, a middle finger to Gursky and his mock turtleneck crowd.

Before leaving, I see some calendars ($0.99) that have an inspiring message for each month.

“There is no such thing as limits to growth, because there are no limits to the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.” That’s the wisdom of Ronald Reagan, worth every penny of the 99 cents.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy