This morning at 8AM West Oakland gets its new 99c Only Store [press release]. The store is on Seventh Avenue, just across from the West Oakland BART station. When I came home from work today, I could see there were already people lining up there to get iPods and scooters for 99c at the grand opening.
This store is a miracle of capitalism in a decimated area of liquor stores and section 8 housing. The folks wanting to open the "Mandela Collective," a joke enterprise which will undoubtedly fail, did everything in their power to stop 99c Only from coming to town.
The collective is one of these weird combinations of Leftist causes you see occasionally in places like Oakland where no one even bothers to try to run profitable enterprises. Their whole idea is to bring organic (and therefore extremely expensive) produce to the inner city. Folks, people in West Oakland don't need prestige products. If they want that, they can head over to the new Whole Foods. What they need are honest products at fair prices, just like everyone else.
One argument people floated against the 99c Only store is that it won't provide people with food. That's just false. 99c Only offers produce, milk, eggs, canned goods, you name it, and you can feed a family of four out of that store on $5 per day. Try doing that on organic produce.
Bravo also to 99c Only for bringing some honest private-enterprise jobs to town. This is what West Oakland needs. Not more government programs. Not more "collective" style businesses that last a few months and then fail.
While we're on the subject, 99c Only turns out to be a pretty nice company itself. It has 250 stores, most of them in California, and over $1B in revenues. Not a bad win for Oakland. And, for those EBC readers out there looking for a place to invest some money, 99c Only's stock looks extremely cheap to me. Here's a chance to make some money and invest in real economic development for the East Bay all at once.