Retail News: 99 Cents Only Stores to exit Houston as part of company liquidation

A 99 Cents Only Store in Sacramento, CA Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

Just over a week after Bloomberg News wrote about 99 Cent Only Stores potentially filing bankruptcy, news has broken that the chain will instead window business complete sometime shortly. According to the Chain Store Age article that broke the news, liquidation sales are set to begin today at all 371 locations. Of these stores, 51 are located in Texas, making it 99 Cents Only’s second-largest market, behind its home state of California. The deep discounter first entered the Texas market via Houston in 2003. 99 Cents Only’s entry was timed with the exit of Albertsons, which allowed the discounter to pick up one of their former distribution center in Katy. The timing of their entry into Houston was amid our 2000s grocery wars, and some may remember the stores generating lots of traffic not just for the low prices on foods but also for selling promotional items like TVs or Watches during the grand opening for 99 Cents. This second round of grocery wars also netted 99 Cents Only Stores some nice locations in former grocers. Also, unlike many other dollar stores in Houston at the time, there was a heavy focus on foods at these stores, making them quite popular. 99 Cents Only had big plans for Texas, with ambitions to open 75 stores in three years, eventually capping out at 150 in the state. The good situation allowed 99 Cents Only to build quickly, and they had nearly 20 stores in Houston by the end of the year and would open their first DFW location in 2004. The company was quite open about targeting a Hispanic customer base similar to what they had in California, and as such, they built stores in San Antonio and the RGV. However, the growth would come to a halt in 2008 when the company announced that it planned to close all 48 stores in Texas. The company cited that while Texas stores were making money, they were doing half the business their core markets were. Most were receptive to the news, as the Teaxs stores were considered to be somewhat of a drain on the original operation. However, after only a few closings, the chain suspended its plans to exit Texas and instead focused on improving and opening new stores, bringing in personnel from California. Store openings would resume in 2010, focusing this time on Houston, DFW, and The Valley. The most recent Texas store opened in 2022 in El Paso. 99 Cents Only also operates Bargain Wholesale, a large supplier to independent Dollar Store chains in Texas.


  1. KPRC did a story tonight comparing 99 Cents Only prices to Walmart on identical items. Walmart was $10 higher! I loved 99 Cents Only, even though I had to drive a few extra miles to get to one. If more people had realized what Channel 2 discovered on how low there prices were, maybe they would have survived.

    1. I saw the video of KPRC’s report from Rosenberg. I couldn’t tell if KPRC was comparing 99 Cents Only’s regular prices before the liquidation markdowns or the prices after the markdowns. If it was the latter, and it might have been since they were comparing receipt prices, it isn’t exactly a fair comparison.

      Anyway, I used to shop at 99 Cents Only a bit in their early days in Houston almost exclusively for blank VHS cassettes. They should sell JVC SX and TDK Revue T-120 VHS cassettes for 99 cents each which was a really good price for decent quality cassettes in around 2003 or so. This was before the era where 99 Cents Only put more emphasis on fresh grocery items. Eventually, they stopped selling the VHS cassettes, and I didn’t need as much of them anyway, so my visits to 99 Cents Only started to become more rare. I did find some TDK A audio cassettes there in the very early 2010s which was quite strange because the A-series cassettes were generally not sold in the United States.

      I can’t say when I last shopped at 99 Cents Only. It has been a while, pre-Covid for sure and maybe a few years before that even. Some of the ‘deals’ there seemed priced higher than what could be found at regular supermarkets and such. The Steeplechase store that Mike documented a few months ago is/was my local store and it’ll be sad to see that former Sav-On/Walgreens empty again especially since I’m sure a less useful store will open there if/when it is eventually filled. Granted, the Ollie’s in the same shopping center, and even Big Lots and King Dollar across the street, seem to generate more buzz in that area than 99 Cents Only here in modern times.