By Nina Aghadjanian
Outlook Valley Sun
Savvy shoppers in Orange County will see a new bargain store emerge just in time for the holiday season, thanks to Mark Miller, a 20-year resident of La Cañada Flintridge and the former president of Pic ‘N’ Save.
Miller is opening the next generation of bargain and close-out retail, Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains, on Friday, Nov. 13, in Anaheim Town Square.
After working at Pic ‘N’ Save for 15 years and then parting ways, Miller is applying his vast knowledge of the Los Angeles market and years of discount retail expertise to create a store that combines elements of a Costco, a Trader Joe’s and a Dollar General — an idea he’s had for a very long time. After three years of planning, Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains has finally come to fruition.
During his years at the discount chain, Miller “fell in love with the business and has loved it ever since.
“During my time at Pic ‘N’ Save, I really believed the people were coming to buy things that they normally might not have been able to afford. But because it was such a good price, they could afford it. That has always resonated with me,” said Miller, who resigned as CEO of Sullivan Gifts at the end of 2016 to carry out his vision for Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains.
He hopes that an emphasis on too-good-to-pass-up deals combined with a well-kept store, wide aisles and friendly staff will set the store apart from other deep-discount retailers.
Customers can expect a variety of name-brand household staples and high-quality “treasure hunt finds” including health and beauty aids, housewares, home decor, electronics, appliances, groceries and seasonal items at close-out prices. There will also be special discounts for teachers, seniors and veterans.
Unlike some off-price retailers, Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains sources the majority of its inventory from overstock items as opposed to cheap off-brand imports. Among the brands that will be part of its rotating inventory are Ziploc, Hanes, Rubbermaid, Nivea, Tide, Farberware and Mattel.
Miller and his team are taking a community-driven approach to Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains — one that includes sponsorship of local youth sports teams, walls that feature Anaheim’s history and personality, and a shopping experience where workers know patrons on a first-name basis. Hence the reason it “has no grandiose ideas of being a national chain.”
With the feel-good tagline, “Save ‘N’ Smile,” and visual branding characterized by bold pops of yellow and red, Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains has something for everyone, from Gen Z to baby boomers and every generation in between, according to Miller.
An added sense of fun will come in the form of a loyalty member program that includes perks like 10% off a customer’s first purchase, a free gift on your birthday, points-based rewards and once a month, the chance to win everything in your cart for free.
“We all know a place where you open the door and you’re just glad to be there. And I’m hoping that’s what customers feel when they come to Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains,” said Miller, who resides in LCF with his wife, Sharon Mintie, and is a member of La Canada Presbyterian Church. His stepdaughter resides in Montrose while his other three children work and attend school outside of California.
“Mark is a passionate leader and visionary. You want to see what he sees, and you want to be there when it happens or help him make it happen,” said Mary Wright, who has known Miller for 34 years and reported to him when she was vice president of advertising and marketing for Pic ‘N’ Save.
In 1950, World War II veteran Bill Zimmerman opened the first Pic ‘N’ Save in Culver City. Over the next 50 years, the Carson-based chain expanded with more than 150 stores. Zimmerman retired in 1985 and 15 years later passed away at the age of 80. In the late 1990s, it struggled financially due to intense competition from other large national discount stores such as Kmart and Walmart, forcing it to close many locations. In 1997, Consolidated Stores Corporation bought Pic ‘N’ Save, which was called MacFrugal’s at the time, and eventually changed the name to Big Lots.
The launch of Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains comes as Orange County remains in the red tier of California’s four-tiered reopening plan due to COVID-19, namely the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Under this tier, the county is classified as having “substantial” risk, allowing for the reopening of shopping centers and retail stores at 50% capacity.
In accordance with COVID-19 safety precautions, Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains employees will be required to wear a mask and take their temperature before their shift. Carts will be sanitized after each use, bathrooms will be cleaned every 30 minutes and free masks will be handed out to those without one. To ensure social distancing inside, the store’s floors will feature six-foot-distance decals.
Pic ‘N’ Save Bargains, which is scheduled to open Nov. 13, is located at 2120 E. Lincoln Ave. in Anaheim. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.