I love ollies. I love them on a skateboard, and I love them on a bike, and I thought I loved them most of all when I was learning to jump on a longboard.


Sometimes when an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet opens, the crowd can get large—particularly if Ollie’s arranges for a Nascar star or MLB player to visit—and law enforcement is needed to help manage the situation. By contrast, everyone on this wintery March day is well behaved, not a race-car driver or slugger in sight, leaving the deputy to contemplate the gigantic bin of plush, chicken-size Peeps (price: 99 cents), shelves of Farberware cookware sets ($39.99) and pallet of four-quart bags of Earthgro potting soil (also 99 cents).

The CEO, chairman, president and cofounder of Ollie’s is Mark Butler, a slightly built man with a big mustache and graying hair silvering over to white. When he walks in around 10, he is almost indistinguishable from his customers. Butler, 60, has attended every one of Ollie’s first 104 openings, but it’s harder to get to them these days with Ollie’s rolling out almost 40 a year. “Looks good,” he says, a group of lieutenants gathering around him. “Parking lot is very, very full.” Something is off, though. “Turn the music down a bit.” The Kinks can be heard, clearly, through the store’s public-address system. “What station do we have on?” Soon the tunes get softer and more modern. (“Something like the radio bothers the daylights out of me,” he admits.) (Source: www.forbes.com)



few months from now, Ollie’s will open another store farther north, in Olean, New York, a small town positioned on the eastern edge of the Rust Belt. Olean is an ideal spot for Ollie’s. It is over an hour drive from the nearest metro, Buffalo. The median income is about $40,000, 34% less than the national average. There is one public high school and one middle school; the mayor is an ex-police officer. The new Ollie’s will be in a former Kmart, a 5-minute drive from a still-operating Walmart and across the parking lot from Aldi, a discount grocer. Most important, “everybody knows the road that it’s on,” Butler says. True enough, West State Street is probably the community’s busiest thoroughfare. “We’re selling a product for a price people will travel to get to.” (Source:

Bernstein suggested bringing in Ollie Rosenberg, a local commercial real estate investor. In the end, Rosenberg would contribute several things. He arranged a $300,000 loan (about $780,000 in today’s terms) from the local Cumberland County National Bank and would also lend his name and appearance to their new business. Put frankly, he looked a lot like Albert Einstein, and a caricature of Rosenberg became the company logo. On July 29, 1982, the first Ollie’s opened in Mechanicsburg, just across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg. A second one followed in October in Harrisburg and a third in York three years later. (Source: www.forbes.com)



Related Articles