99 Cent Only Store? Now Just In Theory

The term "slippery slope" describes a classic form of argument, and it is usually considered a pretty weak argument, or even treated as a fallacy. Thanks to wikipedia, I now know that this type of argument is also known as thin edge of the wedge, or the camel's nose.

Over the last year, I have witnessed a progression of small steps slowly leading to a significant change....at the 99 Cents Only store.

The joy of visiting the 99 Cents Only store is that you don't have to look at prices. Everything is 99 cents. For myself, I become fascinated by the breadth of inventory which is available at their stores, considering the price restriction, and I'll sometimes find myself filling a basket with crap that I don't need, just because I have previously paid $7 each for the same items.


Sometime in late 2009, the 99 Cents Only store raised their price to 99.99¢. Yes. they added 99 hundredths of a cent to the price of everything.

Its a funny move. They do get to keep their store name, but its such a clumsy change that it makes me feel sorry for their company. Its like watching someone using handheld hair dryers to get out of a corner they painted themselves into.

It was a small step, but it turned out to be only the first step.


The next change at 99 Cents Only stores were cases of bottled water. The store began selling bottles at six-for 99¢, and oh, by the way, you can have the whole case for $2.99.

This was the first thing I ever saw selling for more than a dollar there, although technically their sign indicates the price as 2.99.99¢


The next change came into the store when they began selling helium balloons. Instead of offering the finished product, they broke it up into two a la carte portions: A 99¢ balloon and a 49¢ portion of helium. You see? The helium balloons aren't $1.50. They are a 99¢ part combined with a 49¢ part!

Myself, I just take my helium home in earth-friendly paper sacks from Trader Joe's. It saves me quite a bit, and helps keep mylar out of our skyfills.


The next change was in the dairy section. Previously one would only find quarts of milk at the 99¢ Only Store, but around Thanksgiving they started selling full gallons, acknowledging that they were forsaking their name for this one exception.

In the fine print you should be able to read their explanation: I've been asking that they carry gallons of milk! Yes! I've been asking, but I didn't mean they should break out of their self-imposed price barriers to offer it! I want a gallon of milk for 99¢! Can you imagine? I mean, how cool would it be to taste milk imported from Japan?

Finally, on Thursday I spotted this incredible deal, giant bottles of wine!

Unfortunately, the wine bottles were just the last step in a slow slide from 99 Cents Only to 99.99¢ Mostly. The bottles were $4.99.99. Come on! That's not 99 Cents!

They even had to buy a dollar sign to use on these signs. It's a damn tragedy.

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April 25, 2011. | 

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