Santa Rosa store offers deals for inflation-weary customers
From gas to beer, inflation is eating away at people’s hard-earned money.
But there’s a store opening Tuesday in West Santa Rosa that’s perfectly set up for these economic times, combining the excitement of a treasure hunt with the practicality of basement bargain prices.
It’s evident in the store’s name: falling prices.
The store receives refined items from retail giants like Amazon, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wayfair on a weekly basis for under $50. They range from pet food and baby clothes to quilts and some food items, such as flavored almonds.
The twist is that its pricing runs on a sliding scale based on the day of the week. All items on Tuesday at $6, then Wednesday at $4, Thursday at $2, and Friday at $1. Everything left on Saturday is only a quarter so stock can be fully liquidated for next week.
Another new batch of products is then repacked into plywood boxes, which are distributed across the store like a chessboard. The process begins again the following Tuesday morning with around 8000 different items for sale and enthusiastic customers ready to research the product mix.
“I like this because it’s real,” said Richard Codd, a Bennett Valley resident who runs the store on College Avenue with his wife, Ruth.
Cawood is an independent dealer within the RL Liquidators network out of Sacramento that helps facilitate weekly truck deliveries to the location.
“Yes, it makes money. But the people who are going to shop here really need us…the little food department, or toys, or books, or household items. They buy things that just went off the shelf at Target so they can pay a fraction of the cost.”
Among those Wednesday shoppers was Seydentopf, a retired Santa Rosa veteran.
While other shoppers were more eager to grab items, Seydentopf carefully monitored one container, and was very selective about what he would put in his cart. He picked two bundles of printer paper from Amazon that cost $8.
“It’s a good price to pay,” Seydentopf said.
He’s also looked at the 10-pound bag of organic chicken feed, but found it too expensive for $4 on Wednesday as he usually buys his own chicken feed at Tractor Supply Co. descend more.
But Caud noted that the bags could disappear if he waited too long due to the prevalence of word of mouth in the local community, which includes a large number of chicken owners. A check on Cawood’s smartphone revealed a similar item selling for around $20 a bag at Walmart.
“Go back for a day and make sure you get your dollar chicken food,” Caud told Seydentopf.
“I like 25 Cent better,” Seydentopf laughed.
This exchange summed up the give and take of a decision made by more than 50 customers on Wednesday morning. Their numbers ranged from moms to millennials and they were all looking for special deals.
Store activity also reflects the critical role liquidation plays in the US retail market, allowing major companies to quickly dispose of their seasonal, discontinued, or poorly selling merchandise.
This country’s liquidation market has doubled since 2008 and reached $688 billion in 2021, according to Zachary Rogers, associate professor of supply chain management at Colorado State University.
The business is rebounding with inflation, said Larry Morgan, CEO of RL Liquidators, which has 10 price drop sites in the Sacramento area as it expands its reach.
His company also has another operation, BidRL, where consumers can bid on more premium items typically offered at retail for $50 or more, such as mattresses, laptops and coffee makers. Overall, RL Liquidators receive more than 1,000 semi-trailer loads per month, Morgan said.
Cawood also operates a location in Santa Rosa for BidRL, where customers have to come and pick up their purchases if they are successful. This pickup location will be moved to our Falling Price Store in the near future.
“With inflation soaring, people are having to find ways they can save on the things they buy every day,” Morgan said. “It’s like Black Friday every day.”
Cawood said there were 60 people outside the store before the doors opened at 10 a.m. on the first business day as shoppers looked to get their first pick of any deals at $6 per item. Bags of dog food sold out quickly, and one man found a framed signed photo of the San Francisco 49ers player, he said.
In anticipation of its popularity, Cawood is already thinking about crowd management methods, especially on Tuesday mornings. Shoppers can download the Falling Price app to their smartphone to reserve space up to 24 hours in advance to help reduce customer flow and ensure it’s organised.
“We only have a limited number of shopping carts, so with a pass you can have coffee in your car and park at 10 a.m. when I say who’s number one?” Jawed said.
During the later part of the week, Caude said, the store will attract shoppers looking for items they can later resell via their garage sales, keeping the business cycle going.
Cawood previously worked as an executive at Charles Schwab & Co and became interested in the resale market as a result of his son Ben, who ran a small business selling on Amazon and eBay.
When Ben left for college in Boston, Cawood became more interested in “reverse logistics,” which takes items back from retailers in bulk and sells them back to the public. He and his wife reached out to Morgan in 2018.
“We were intrigued. By running a store where you lower the price of each item based on the day of the week, you can empty a store during the week so you can restock and come back again,” he said.
Opening a retail store was a big step, but Caude said he relied on the advice of Tejay Lowe, whose family ran a G&G supermarket before selling to Safeway in 2016. Lowe who now runs the shopping mall where Falling Price is located. .
“It’s an exciting retail model, quite frankly,” Lowe said of the store. “If you give people value, they will shop with you.”
You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter BillSwindell.