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‘It Makes Sense’

Ollie’s To Open In Lakewood In Oct.

Ollie's Bargain Outlet is pictured in Warren County. Company officials said a Lakewood site will open in the former Office Max location in Lakewood in the middle of October. P-J file photo

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet should be open in the former Office Max location in Lakewood in the middle of October.

Ollie’s officials confirmed in response to a Post-Journal inquiry on Friday that the bargain outlet will open a location in Lakewood. On Monday, Jerry Altland, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet senior vice president of real estate, said the decision makes sense given the outlet chain’s recent period of expansion.

“It makes sense logistically where we’re at today,” Altland said. “We’re in Erie, we’re in Olean and now going further west in to the Jamestown area. It really just makes sense. We have a store further south in Warren, Pa., too. It makes sense. We got the right economic deal and made it happen.”

John Swygert, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet CEO, said in December during an earnings conference call with investor analysts that Olllie’s opened 46 stores in 2020 during a time when many retailers shed stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 50 to 55 new stores are planned in 2021.

Altland said the company’s relative financial strength is a reason why Ollie’s has been able to expand throughout the pandemic. Ollie’s Army, the chain’s customer loyalty program, was a big driver of sales in the third quarter of 2020, a time that saw the second-biggest increase in new customer signups in Ollie’s history, Swygert said in December. Ollie’s ended 2020 with 11.4 million active members in Ollie’s Army, a 13.9% increase from 2019.

Further, net sales in the third quarter of 2020 increased 26.7% during the pandemic to $414.4 million while comparable sales increased 15.3%. The increase, according to Jay Stasz, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, said the increase in sales came from both increases in the number of transactions and an increase in the size of individual purchases.

“We’re doing fine,” Altland said. “We have the infrastructure to do it even with the pandemic last year. Some retailers chose to hold their openings and catch up this year. We chose to keep opening stores. We were able to do and have the people to do it. Ollie’s is doing just fine.”

Ollie’s currently has locations at 4000 Market St., Warren; 1170 Central Ave., Dunkirk; and 2072 Interchange Road, Erie. The store opened 23 new stores in the second half of 2020.

Its most recent additions in the region came in Hermitage, Pa., and Plattsburgh, N.Y.

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