Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on February 25th, 2014

Dave Gold: Who built what is now a 332 store business empire on 99 cent sales.

Shortly before his 81st birthday in 2013, Dave's heart stopped, his life cycle completed. But what a life it was.

At age 50, when most people have long surrendered their entrepreneurial dreams, Dave started his first business venture: 99 Cents Only Stores.

People laughed because at 99 cents, they said he'd lose money and go broke. But Dave believed otherwise because in the family liquor business, he saw that 99 cents was a magic number.

If he ran a sale at 98 cents or $1.01, the merchandise moved slowly. But priced at 99 cents it flew off the shelves.

So Dave named his store 99 Cents Only and priced everything accordingly.

Dave Gold
Los Angeles Times photo: Dave Gold

The keys to success for Dave would be to price at 99 cents, operate efficiently and to buy top quality merchandise at such discounted prices, that he could sell at bargain prices and still make money.

So if Colgate couldn't sell all their toothpaste, he was there. If Energizer had too many batteries or Del Monte redesigned their tomato sauce cans and wanted to sell off their prior designed cans, he was there.

Most major household suppliers sold their excess merchandise to Dave at huge discounts, which he in turn passed on to consumers.

Dave so loved his business that he typically worked from 4 am to 7 pm, claiming he only worked a "3 hour day."

Sherry, his wife of 55 years, worked alongside of him as did other family members and those he considered to be his extended family, the employees.

In 2011, Dave sold City of Commerce, California based 99 Cents Only Stores to equity firm Ares Management and to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for approximately $1.6 billion, which placed him among the Forbes 400 richest people.

But the long-term success of the chain had already made him rich, as did doing what he loved.

Employees called him "Dave," not Mr. Gold and his office was basically a big cubicle. He wore old rumpled pants and a white shirt that needed ironing, and black scuffed shoes that had seen better days.

Dave's car was a 2000 Prius. He had no administrative assistant, and he personally placed and took phone calls and greeted visitors.

Dave's purpose in life was never to be rich. He lived in the same middle class home he bought in the early 1960's. But he loved humanity and his purpose was to save customers money to make their lives better.

Many of us miss this lovely man.

Success Tip of the Week: If you have a "crazy business idea," as Dave did, give yourself the opportunity to make it a success.

Editor's Note: 99 Cents Only Stores buys from almost every major name brand consumer goods manufacturer in the nation. To learn more, please see: http://www.99only.com/our-brands#sthash.9fZlao6w.dpuf For Dave Gold's L.A. Times obit, Click Here.

In the next KazanToday: A man from a farmworker family who became a doctor.

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Many of these short, inspirational success stories are about people from all walks of life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve remarkable results. These stories contain practical advice and a recipe for success for each of these renowned individuals. Some of their stories may help you to avoid some of the costly and time consuming mistakes that many of us make in life and at work. Learn from some of history's greatest winners on how to become a winner yourself, no matter what the obstacle, and no matter how daunting the task before you may seem. Good luck!
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