Pete Lozano and eight other people in line for a promotional 99-cent television were given strict rules to save their place as they waited dozens of hours before the grand opening of Los Banos’ new 99 Cents Only store.
They could only move from their spot for bathroom and meal breaks. They were monitored by a store official. And they were left to figure out how to deal with cool night temperatures as they slept and the heat of the morning sun.
Lozano said he walked to the nearby Jack in the Box during his meal breaks, relishing the air conditioning before getting back in line.
“It seemed like a longer time because all of us were anxious to get a TV for 99 cents,” Lozano said.
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The first nine dedicated deal-seekers told the hundreds in line what they were going to do with their new TV during the store’s grand opening Wednesday morning.
The store is at 1209 W. Pacheco Blvd.
The celebration featured a performance by the Los Banos High School Marching Band, a ribbon-cutting, decorations and speeches by Dan Fernandez, corporate director of inventory control, and Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta.
“We are so happy to be in Los Banos today,” Fernandez said.
As part of the welcome, Fernandez presented band director Cliff Brand with a $500 check on behalf of 99 Cents Only Stores.
Villalta and Councilwoman Deborah Lewis represented the city at the opening, and Jerry Knoester represented the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce.
“This is another store in the city of Los Banos,” Villalta said. “We’re hoping it does well and we wish them well.”
The grand opening was buoyed by 99 Cents Only Stores’ promotional deals, the biggest of which was a 40-inch Quasar LED HD TV for 99 cents to the first nine people in line.
The line started Monday morning with Samuel Armenta.
“It was too good to pass up,” Armenta said Monday.
Besides Armenta and Lozano, recipients of the 99-cent TVs were Lucy Alcontar, Jesse Chew, Roy Lozano, Mayra Montiel, Maria Razo, Richard Lopez and Silvia Valdez, according to the log kept by the store.
After they were recognized, the promotion continued with the next 99 shoppers receiving 99-cent coffee makers. The next bunch of 99 shoppers received a 99-cent steam iron, and the final group of 99 shoppers in the promotion received a rice cooker for 99 cents.
The promotion continued Thursday with the first 99 shoppers getting 99-cent digital scales. The first 99 shoppers Friday will receive a 99-cent mixer with case. And on Saturday, the first 99 shoppers can buy 99-cent toasters.
Los Banos residents Armida Parraz, Marissa Serrano, Mary Dobbs and Gabriella Parraz arrived in line together when the store opened at 8 a.m. And they were willing to stand about 45 minutes before their turn came for the discounted appliances.
The group was thinking of coming at 4 a.m. Wednesday to stand in line, but they heard the first nine spots were already taken.
“We didn’t expect this for our town,” Armida Parraz said of the grand-opening celebration. “It was very cute.”
Parraz, who plans to shop at the store regularly, said having another dollar store in town could mean getting a different selection of products on the cheap.
Geoffrey Covert, 99 Cents Only Stores president and CEO, said the promotions are something that the store chain does for every grand opening.
“This is a new market for us,” Covert said. “We’ve got real big values for 99 cents.”
While most of the items in the store are priced at 99 cents, some larger or premium items cost a little more.