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Big lots grand opening a success in Calexico

April 22, 2002|By STEFANIE GREENBERG, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Big Lots is starting its Valley tenure with a bang.

The Calexico store ranks higher in sales than 27 San Diego stores that also announced their grand openings as Big Lots on Tuesday.

Amid orange balloons and giveaways, the formerly named Pic ‘N' Save officially branded itself to the nation's largest broadline close-out retailer.

"We're going to see a lot more quality merchandise," said Larry Chaney, manager at the Calexico store for about five years.

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Chaney pointed out a George Foreman grill as an example of a name-brand product available because of the company's buying power.

Prior to the grand opening under its new name, Big Lots refurbished the Calexico store, repainting walls and shelving, adding new lights and fixing the restrooms to make the store "much more customer-friendly," said Chaney.

Michelle Romero of Calexico, calling herself the store's "No. 1 client," said the store "definitely needed it," referring to the refurbishing.

She said she found the same things in Big Lots as under the previous name, but noticed the store was more orderly and the cart fit the items better.

"We've been having a lot of people," said Maria Elena Duran, a cashier setting up balloons in one of the aisles. "People have loved the store now."

Big Lots is looking to recapture its success in El Centro.

Chaney said the company is looking at two locations in El Centro and is in the process of negotiating a lease. If the building is big enough, closeout furniture might be added to the merchandise. East Coast Big Lots stores already offer furniture, but Calexico's store is not large enough, he said. The El Centro location could open within a year, he said.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Big Lots Inc., has annual revenues exceeding $3 billion. As a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (under the symbol BLI), Big Lots employs more than 40,000 associates and has grown to more than 1,300 stores in 45 states.

The company's stores formerly operated under the names Big Lots, Odd Lots, Pic ‘N' Save and Mac Frugal's. Rebranding efforts are under way with all store names changing to Big Lots by mid-2002.

Big Lots is at 2330 E. Imperial Ave. in Calexico.

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