Ollie’s collects $580,000 to help 114 food banks

Harrisburg-based Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Inc. announced Tuesday that it raised more than $580,000 to benefit 114 Feeding America member food banks in the communities Ollie’s serves.

The money was donated through an in-store fundraising campaign the closeout retailer conducted from April 10 to May 7 at 438 participating stores.

“With inflation at an all-time high, we are proud to be continuing our partnership with Feeding America for a third year to help the communities we serve provide food for their families,” John Swygert, Ollie’s president and CEO, said in a release. “With the help of our generous customers, we are able to support thousands of people in need across the 29 states we operate our business.”

“More than 38 million people, including 12 million children, experience hunger in the U.S.,” added Lauren Biedron, vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “Communities across the country are feeling the impact of rising food prices and many neighbors are turning to their local food banks for assistance. Feeding America is grateful to provide even more meals to neighbors in need thanks to our partnership with Ollie’s.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Ollie’s opens 400th location on its way to 1,050

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet opens its 400th store this week. PHOTO/FILE

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet opens its 400th store this week and by the end of the month will have opened locations in three new states.

The Harrisburg-based discount retail chain announced this week that it would be opening its 400th store out of a targeted 1,050 locations it plans to open across the country in the coming years.

The new location is in Vermont and will be the company’s first in the state. It will be followed by Ollie’s first locations in Kansas and Missouri later this month.

Ollie’s current growth plan has seen it expand by nearly 50 stores a year, mostly on the East Coast. Last year, the company opened a new Texas-based distribution center, which has allowed it to expand into the Midwest, according to Tom Kuypers, senior vice president of marketing at Ollie’s.

The bargain outlet opened 46 new stores in fiscal 2020 and saw its store sales increase by 15.6%. Ollie’s total net sales increased by 28.4% to $1.8 billion dollars and its net income increased 72% to $242.7 million.

“We had a tremendously successful year,” said Kuypers. “As people got through the pandemic we were able to be open and could continue to serve our communities. As people were economically distressed we could offer that value and we were rewarded for that.”

Ollie’s says it has yet to find a market where its customers aren’t interested in the company’s value proposition, but as the company expands outside of the East Coast, it is finding that customers lack the brand awareness that its Pennsylvania customers have.

“When we open in Kansas or Vermont, people don’t know us and we have to work harder at building the brand,” said Kuypers. “But, at the same time, our business model is solid and it translates across state borders.”

Staff at the company’s Harrisburg headquarters currently numbers 175 people. Ollie’s is hiring for a number of positions and expects the number to continue to increase alongside the growth of its stores.

“We went public in 2015 and from that point forward we have been on this growth trajectory,” said Kuypers. “To manage a chain of 400 stores and growing to 1,050, every function needs more people.”