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A variety store or price-point retailer is a retail store that sells inexpensive items, often with a single price for all items in the store. Typical merchandise includes cleaning supplies, toys, household goods and gardening equipment.
Formerly many variety stores had lunch counters for inexpensive meals.
Variety store products include cooking supplies, small tools, personal hygiene supplies, kitchen supplies, organizational supplies, small office supplies, holiday decorations, electronics supplies, gardening supplies, home decor, novelties, toys, pet supplies, out of print books, DVDs and VHS tapes, food products, automotive supplies, among other products.
Some items sold at a certain price point would cost that much anyway, whereas other items offer a substantially lower price than usual. There are three reasons a variety store is able to sell merchandise at such a low price:
- The product is a generic or private label, often specially manufactured for such stores, using cheaper ingredients and processes than products intended for a wider audience.
- The product was manufactured cheaply for a foreign market but was then re-imported by an unauthorized distributor (grey market goods).
- The product is purchased from another retail store or distributor as discontinued and discounted merchandise. (Often items were manufactured to coincide with the promotion of a motion picture, television show or special event (e.g. Olympic games), and are past their prime price.)
Some stores carry mostly new merchandise, some mostly closeout merchandise bought from other stores below regular wholesale cost.
Depending upon the size, some variety stores may have a frozen food and drink section, and also one with fruits and vegetables. The Deal$, Dollar Tree, and 99 Cents Only Store chains in the US are examples. Some stores may have a section of single price point items combined on the same premises with a section selling larger, more expensive merchandise like CD players, lamps, and silverware. The flagship store of Jack's 99 and Jack's World in New York City is an example of such a store. Jack's 99 carries all types of items that retail for 99 cents, whereas Jack's World sells branded goods at discount prices.
In economic terms, the pricing strategy of variety stores is inefficient as some items may actually be sold elsewhere at a lower price. However, this is offset by the efficiencies of a single-price structure; consumers accept potentially overpriced items. The pricing inefficiency becomes unacceptable at higher price points. Thus, there are no "100-dollar stores" where all items sell for $100; consumers expect to pay the correct amount, as inaccuracies result in significant dollar amounts.
In many developed countries, stock can be imported from nations with lower variable costs, due to factors such as lower minimum wages or taxation. Usually merchandise is imported by a general merchandise importer/wholesaler, then sold to the stores at a wholesale rate. Another source of stock is overruns, surplus items and out-of-date food products. Real Deals, a regional dollar store in the Syracuse, New York area, is stocked almost entirely with surplus goods such as these.
Although some people may link variety stores with low-income areas, this comparison is not always necessarily true. For example, Atherton, California has a variety store within its city limits, even though it has a median household income of over $200,000 a year.
Throughout the world 
North America 
The concept of the variety store originated with the five and ten, nickel and dime, five and dime, ten-cent store, or dimestore, a store where everything cost either five cents (a nickel) or ten cents (a dime). The originator of the concept is Woolworth Bros, in July 1879. Woolworth Bros later became F.W. Woolworth Company or just, Woolworth's. On June 21, 1879, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first successful five cent store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after a failed attempt with a store he opened on February 22, 1879, in Utica, NY. Frank soon brought his brother, Charles Sumner "Sum" Woolworth into the business. Together they opened a second store in Harrisburg, PA, on July 18, 1879. Prior to their own stores, the Woolworth brothers worked in the Augsbury and Moore, a dry goods store in Watertown, New York. It was this employer who trained the Woolworth brothers, and loaned Frank $300 in merchandise. Frank settled his debt by the time he opened the Lancaster store. Frank experimented with a 10¢ table in Lancaster, and similar to his experiment of a 5¢ table at Augsbury and Moore, it was a success. Sum managed the Harrisburg store, crammed it with goods, hired clerks, and also added table with a ten cent line of goods. Once again, the line was a huge success. Due to a rent dispute with the landlord, Sum soon moved the Harrisburg store to York, Pennsylvania and on November 6, 1880, Sum opened the store in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, and formally called the store a "5¢ & 10¢ store". There, Sum developed and fully established the five and ten (dime) concept into American culture. While Frank spent time opening more stores, working the back end of the business, buying in bulk for all affiliates and "friendly rivals", and buying manufacturers to keep prices low, Sum used his Scranton store to train new managers and develop many of the Woolworth concepts which included bright lighting, a polished high-luster floor, glass showcases, mahogany counters and merchandise which people can touch. Prior to this, clerks had to personally work with each customer, and take merchandise from cases or shelves to hand to customers. The old practice of individualized service caused higher overhead, and clerks needed to know the merchandise. Prior to Woolworth, the prevailing thought was an entire store could not maintain itself with all low-priced merchandise. The Woolworth Bros and their affiliated partner stores originally featured merchandise priced at only five cents and ten cents. Many other people tried to copy their lead.
Later in the twentieth century the price range of merchandise expanded. Inflation eventually dictated that the stores were no longer able to sell any items for five or ten cents, and were then referred to as "variety stores" or more commonly dollar stores. Using the Historical Consumer Price Index for Jan 1913 (9.8) and Jan 2009 (211.143), the rate of inflation change is 2,067%. Therefore, $0.05 in Jan 1913 when adjusted for inflation is $1.08 in Jan 2009 dollars.
Well-known dimestore companies included:
Of these, only Duckwall-ALCO and Ben Franklin continue to exist in this form, while Kresge and Walton's became mega-retailers Kmart and Wal-Mart. Beginning around the 1960s, others tried the larger "discount store" format as well, such as W.T. Grant, Woolworth's Woolco stores, and TG&Y Family Centers.
According to IBISWorld, dollar stores have grown 43 percent since 1998 and have become a $56 billion industry. Colliers International claims there are more dollar stores than drug stores. With stores of other types closing in large numbers, dollar stores often replace other types of stores in shopping centers. They succeed partly because of impulse purchases.
Among today's dollar stores are:
- In the United States: Dollar Tree, 99 Cents Only Stores, Deal$, Fred's, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Five Below, Galloway Dollar, Real Deals, and Honks
- In Canada: A Buck or Two (163+), Dollarama (560+), Everything For a Dollar Store, Great Canadian Dollar Store (100+), Dollar Giant (50+), Your Dollar Store With More (180+)
- In Mexico: Waldo's Dollar Mart,
In Spain there are Todo a 100 shops ("everything for 100 pesetas" (0.60 €)), although due to the introduction of the euro and inflation, most products cost a multiple of 0.60 or 1 euro. Most of these shops maintain their name in pesetas, and most of them have been renamed as Casi todo a 100 ("almost everything for 100 [pesetas]"), Todo a 100, 300, 500 y más ("everything for 100, 300, 500 or more") or Todo a un euro. Colloquially, the expression "todo a 100" implies that something is either cheap, kitsch or low quality.
In Portugal there were Trezentos' shops ("Store of the 300 (escudos)" (1.50€)), but with the introduction of the Euro currency, this designation is not used nowadays and the terms 'bazar' or 'euro store' are preferred.
In Germany, there are ToBi (Total Billig, which translates as "Totally Inexpensive") stores where most items cost one or two Euro or less.
In the United Kingdom, "pound shops" are common, where everything costs £1; some lower-value items may be sold on the basis of 2, 3, or 4 for £1. Not all stores with "pound" in their name use a fixed pricing model, for example Poundstretcher sells many items at higher prices.
In the Netherlands, one of the largest department store chains, the HEMA, used to sell goods using standard prices, with everything having a Standard price of 10, 25 or 50 cents, and later also 75 and 100 cents. After World War II, this model could not be sustained and the standard pricing system was abandoned. HEMA is the abbreviation of Dutch standardized prices company (in Dutch: Hollandse Eenheids Prijzen Maatschappij). The HEMA has some 500 stores per 2011 and operates also in Belgium, Germany and France. Stores:
- In Belgium: HEMA.
- In France: HEMA, Prisunic, Monoprix, Uniprix, M. 1-2-3
- In Germany: EuroShop, HEMA, Pfennigland, TEDi
- In Greece: 300 ( 300 drachmas equal to 0.90€)
- In Italy: NINEtNINE cent paradise
- In Ireland: Euro 2
- In Luxembourg: HEMA
- In Malta: Tal-Lira
- In the Netherlands: Euroland, HEMA and Zeeman.
- In Norway: Tier´n, which is a colloquialism for ten kroner = USD 1.75.
- In Sweden: Bubbeltian, called by some Tian, which is colloquial for ten kronor (crowns) = USD 1.60. Another chain that has been spreading in Sweden during the last seven years is Dollarstore, a chain where everything costs either 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and steps of 50 up to 500 SEK, but the Swedish DollarStore is not related to the American store with the same name.
- In United Kingdom: Poundland, Poundworld, Poundwise, Poundstretcher, 99p Stores
- In Denmark: Tiger, which means tiger as well as being a pun on the word for the Danish ten-krone coin. The chain is owned by the company "Zebra" and recently began releasing original music, after a campaign on the company's website found them several artists.
- In Russia: Fixprice (36 rubles)
In Japan, 100-yen shops (百円ショップ hyaku-en shoppu or 百均 hyakkin) have been proliferating across Japan since around 2001. This is considered by some an effect of decade-long recession of the Japanese economy. Despite the emphasis on value, however, some items, such as chocolate bars, may be priced higher than they are at other stores, such as supermarkets.
For a few years, 100-yen shops existed not as stores in brick-and-mortar building, but as vendors under temporary, foldable tents. They were (and still are) typically found near the entrance areas of supermarkets.
One major player in 100 Yen Shops is Hirotake Yano, the founder of Daiso Industries Co. Ltd., which runs the Daiso chain. The first store opened in 1991, and there are now around 2,400 stores in Japan. This number is increasing by around 40 stores per month. Daiso has also expanded into North America, Asia, and the Middle East.
In India, they are known as 49 & 99 shops. Typical price range in these shops is 49 & 99 Indian Rupees. 49 Rupees was approximately equal to one US dollar when these started, also 49 and 99 are near rounds of 50 and 100 respectively to draw the shoppers. Items are generally cheap gift articles, toys, watches, office stationery, and crockery.
In China, two yuan (or three yuan, depending on the area's economic prosperity) shops have become a common sight in most cities.
In Hong Kong, major department stores have opened their own 10-dollar-shops (USD 1.28) to compete in the market, and thus there are now "8-dollar-shops" (USD 1.02) and even "2-dollar-shops" (USD 0.26) in Hong Kong, in order to compete at lower prices, especially in less affluent communities. Low prices are achievable due to the lack of sales tax in Hong Kong and its proximity to China.
In Taiwan, fixed price stores can be found in many locations, including night markets, regular shopping streets, regular market stalls, and department stores. Two typical price points are NT$39 and NT$49. Given that the retail environment in Taiwan is already highly competitive, it is not unusual to see such stores fail. Typically the goods for such stores are manufactured in China to keep costs down.
South America 
In Argentina, variety stores are called todo por dos pesos (2 pesos).
In Brazil, these stores are called um e noventa e nove (one and ninety-nine, meaning BRL1.99, about US$1.20) usually written as 1,99 (note the decimal comma). They began to appear in the decade of 1990 possibly as a consequence of both the increase in the purchasing power of the low income classes after the curbing of hyperinflation and the decrease in middle-class net income due to a gradual increase in the national average tax load.
Brazilians sometimes use the expression um e noventa e nove to refer to cheap, low quality things or even people.
In Chile, they are called todo a mil (referring to the one thousand Chilean pesos banknote). They are commonly located in middle-class neighbourhoods where big retail stores don't usually venture and in small commercial districts like the ones in Santiago.
- In Australia the main variety stores now consist of The Reject Shop, The Basement, Go-Lo, Sam's Warehouse, Crazy Clark's, Chickenfeed (Tasmania and Victoria), Red Dot (Western Australia), Browse in and Save & Cunningham's Warehouse Sales (South Australia), Hot Dollar (NSW & ACT)
- In New Zealand: The $2 Shop, 2 Cheap, Dollar Saver, 1, 2, 3 Dollar Shop, Crazy Clark's and Coin Save
Price points 
The store is usually named for the price of the merchandise sold in the store (but see below); the names vary by area and time, as each country has a different currency, and the nominal price of the goods has increased over time due to inflation. Modern names include:
- dollar store, $1.25 store, 99-cent store, etc. in the United States
- dollar store in Canada plus other names. Dollar store is used predominantly, even when the maximum price point is two or three dollars.
- Euroshop or 1-Euro-Shop in Germany.
- Pound shop, £2 shop, 99p shop, etc. in the United Kingdom, e.g. Poundland
- $2 shop in Australia and New Zealand
- Euro store, €2 store, etc. in the Rep. Of Ireland, Greece, Italy, etc.
- 100-yen shop or one coin shop in Japan
- 10-dollar shop (US$1.28), 8-dollar shop, etc. in Hong Kong
- 5 y 10 in Mexico (selling everything at 5 and 10 pesos).
- euroland (formerly known as knakenland) in the Netherlands
- Todo a 100, 20 duros and SuperCien in Spain (former 100 pesetas = 0.60€)
- Todo por dos Pesos in Argentina (1 peso = US$0.32)
- 2.5 LE shop in Egypt
- Magasin à prix unique (English: One Price Store) in France
- Wszystko za 5 złotych in Poland
- 88 or 99 Peso Store in Philippines
- 100 forintos bolt in Hungary
- 3,8 RON shop in Romania
- Dólar y Algo Extra, La Reina, Almacenes Caravana in Puerto Rico
- Loja de 1,99 (BRL1.99 = US$1.07) in Brazil
- Loja dos 300 in Portugal 300 escudos = 1,5 Eur
- 49 & 99 shop in India
- 100 fils Shop in Kuwait
- 2 riyal Shop in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries
- Max20 (kroner) in Norway
- Sve po 8/10/12 kuna in Croatia
- Sve za 79/99/100 dinara (Everything for 79/99/100 dinars) in Serbia
- Всё по 10 рублей/Всё по 100 рублей (English: Everything On 100 Rubles) in Russia
- Всичко по 1 лев in Bulgaria
- Todo por 23 pesos in Uruguay (23 pesos = US$1)
- Ghazali's HomeStore in Pakistan
Some variety stores are not true "single price-point" stores despite their name. Often the name of the store, such as "dollar store", is only a suggestion, and can be misleading. Some stores that call themselves "dollar stores", such as Dollar General and Family Dollar in the United States, have items that cost more or less than a dollar. Some stores also sell goods priced at multiples of the named price. The problem with the name is also compounded in some countries by sales tax, which leads to taxable items costing the customer more than a dollar. Some purists maintain that the phrase "dollar store", in the strict sense, should only refer to stores which sell only items that cost exactly $1.
Some stores can have prices which are not round multiples of currency, such as the "99-cent store" or "88-yen store". As inflation increases the nominative price of goods, the names of such stores must also change over time.
The £100 Shop in Dalston in the United Kingdom is a "hyperbolic reworking" of the variety store concept. On its website and at a physical storefront, the £100 Shop presents items obtained in a £1 shop as if they were unique luxury items.
See also 
- Dave Tobin / The Post-Standard. "Business is booming for Auburn-based dollar store chain". syracuse.com. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- "Atherton, CA Real Estate Data". RealEstate.com. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
- Plunkett-Powell, Karen (1999). "Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five". Retrieved 2011-10-23. Text " St. Martin's Press / New York | Author: Karen Plunkett-Powell " ignored (help)
- "US Inflation Calculator, Consumer Price Index Data from 1913 to 2011". U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- "Chain stores: their management and operation". 1922. Text " Authors: Walter Sumner Hayward and Percival Albert Frederick White " ignored (help); Text "Contributing Chapters by John S. Fleek and Hugh MacIntyre " ignored (help); Text "Publisher: McGraw-Hill Book Co. Inc " ignored (help); Text "Printed: The Maple Press - York, PA " ignored (help);
- "Dollar stores among the new retail powerhouses". News & Record. 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- "Diet Coke Can 330ml - 3 for 31". Poundland. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- [dead link]
- DollarStore Sweden
- Typical Overseas Stores[dead link]
- "The £100 Shop". Hackney Citizen. 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
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