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The Price Was Right

12/18/2009 02:45:00 PM

A notable news item slipped through the cracks this week amid the healthcare reform fracas and pre-holiday hubbub.
Sol Price, founder of Price Club and father of the wholesale club channel, died of natural causes on Monday at the age of 93.
Bronx-born Price, son of a labor organizer and clothing factory owner, was a San Diego lawyer when he entered retail in 1954 with the creation of FedMart, a members-only discount store for government workers.
Kicked out 20 years later by the German firm that bought the chain, he and his son Robert raised seed money from family and friends and created Price Club in an abandoned airport hangar. His business plan: keep prices and overhead low, volume high, and provide good wages and benefits to employees.
Price grew the company into a $6.6 billion business with 94 stores at its peak in 1992. One year later Price Club merged with Costco to become Price Costco, and later simply Costco.
One can argue that the warehouse club concept has contributed to margin declines in consumer electronics and the consolidation in CE retail and manufacturing. But Price’s no-frills merchandising approach has also helped millions of Americans make ends meet while providing an affordable taste of the good life.
For them, the price was right.

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