Retail/office building anchored by Ollie’s sells for $15M

An undisclosed investor paid $15 million for the approximately 120,000-square-foot retail/office building at 6295 Allentown Blvd., Lower Paxton Township.

The sale was announced by Campbell Commercial Real Estate Inc., which brokered the transaction.

Fully leased, the property includes tenants Super Shoes, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet headquarters and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet flagship store. Prior to the sale, extensive renovations were completed, including a new roof and signage.

Improvements to the 38-year-old Ollie’s store, to be done this year, are part of the first store remodel program in company history.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Ollie’s to build $68M distribution center in Illinois

Harrisburg-based Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Inc. plans to build a $68 million distribution center in Princeton, Illinois, to meet growing demand and support the company’s nationwide expansion.

The 600,000-square-foot facility will create 145 full-time jobs over the next three years, according to a release.

Expected to be completed in 2024, the distribution center will service 150-plus Ollie’s stores across the Midwest. As part of the project, the company received an Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credit from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

“We are excited to make the next key step in our nationwide expansion happen by building our fourth distribution center in Princeton, Illinois,” said Eric van der Valk, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ollie’s.

“Illinois is one of Ollie’s fastest-growing states with 10 stores and counting to open in the upcoming months. Its central location to our other markets in the Midwest region and the strong workforce made Illinois the perfect spot for breaking ground to bring customers more bargains.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzer added: “I’m excited to welcome Ollie’s first distribution center to Illinois and to the Midwest, and proud that this facility will create full-time jobs and support the local economy in Princeton. Illinois’ top-notch location and infrastructure are well-suited to support the needs of a fast-expanding company like Ollie’s and their decision to locate here further solidifies the state as a first-class destination to do business.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Ollie’s reports first-quarter drop in net sales

Citing inflation and other factors that hurt business, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc. reported a double-digit drop in first-quarter net sales and gross profit.  

The Harrisburg-based discount retailer said total net sales decreased 10.1%, to $406.7 million, and gross profit declined 22.6%, to $141.3 million. In addition, comparable store sales fell 17.3% from a year ago; operating income slipped 75.9%; and net income was 77.3% less.  

Ollie’s opened nine stores and closed one (in connection with a relocation), ending the first quarter with 439 stores in 29 states. That was a 10.6% higher count than the year before.  

“We were pleased with our first-quarter results given that we were up against headwinds including strong stimulus-induced sales a year ago, cooler weather (that) impacted sales of our seasonal products, and a consumer faced with significantly higher inflation, particularly on gas and food,” John Swygert, president and CEO, said in a release. “Our current sales trends have improved meaningfully in the second quarter fueled by increased demand for warm weather seasonal products, combined with our incredible deals and strong inventory position. We are doubling down on our efforts to offer great value as consumers continue to feel inflationary pressures, although we have not yet seen the full benefit of consumers trading down.”  

Swygert added, “Looking ahead … we remain confident that our business model can support at least 1,050 stores and that our long-term outlook continues to be intact.”  

Ollie’s now projects 2022 total net sales of $1.87 billion to $1.9 billion; comparable store sales of -2% to even; and expects to open 46 to 48 stores, including two relocations.  

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer 

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 looks to hire for 2,000 positions nationwide through one-day hiring event

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet will be looking to fill 2,000 positions nationwide during a hiring event next week.

The Harrisburg-based closeout retailer announced on Wednesday that it will be hiring for positions across its over 400 store locations, three distribution centers – in York, Pennsylvania; Commerce, Georgia, and Lancaster, Texas – and its store support center in Harrisburg.

Ollie’s local distribution center in York alone will be seeking 100 new team members for all positions, including distribution associates and reach-truck operators.
The nationwide hiring event will be held June 15 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“It’s an exciting time for Ollie’s as we continue to expand our store presence across the country. This year alone we have opened 20 new stores with 30 more slated to open by the end of 2021,” said John Swygert, president and CEO of Ollie’s.

“Our June 15 hiring event opens the door to add new team members to our amazing company who want to start to build their career at one of the fastest growing retailers in the country.”

Last month, the outlet opened its 400th store as part of a strategy to open 1,050 locations in the coming years.

Ollie’s 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.

The chain currently employs approximately 10,000 associates. The additional 2,000 positions include full-time, part-time, seasonal and leadership positions.

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.”

Ollie’s announces new CEO

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet has a new president and CEO, John Swygert, after the company’s founder Mark Butler died suddenly. (Photo: File)

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc. officially announced Tuesday that its board of directors named John Swygert as its new president, CEO and member of the board.

Swygert had been serving as interim president and CEO since Dec. 2 when Ollie’s founder Mark Butler passed away suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend. He served as executive vice president and COO of Ollie’s since January 2018.

“John’s deep and detailed knowledge of the business, passion for the Ollie’s culture and demonstrated performance make him the clear choice as Ollie’s President and CEO and he has the board’s steadfast support,” said Rich Zannino, Ollie’s board of directors member. “Working alongside Mark for the past nearly 16 years, John has been a big key to our success.  The board wholeheartedly encouraged Mark’s grooming of John as his successor and John’s development and performance over this period has been outstanding by every measure.”

Swygert first joined the Ollie’s organization in 2004 as its CFO. He was later promoted to executive vice president and CFO in 2011 before talking the COO role last year.

Prior to joining Ollie’s, Swygert was executive vice president and CFO at California-based Factory 2-U Stores Inc. and has worked in discount retail as a finance professional for 27 years.

“Ollie’s has achieved remarkable growth and success under Mark’s leadership and it has been my privilege to work closely with him over the last nearly 16 years, Swygert said. “During this time, Mark and I built deeply talented and passionate teams across all facets of the company. Looking forward, Ollie’s continues to have tremendous runway for growth and our entire team has rallied together with determination to make Mark proud. We are committed to executing this incredible business model and remain focused on driving profitable growth and shareholder value now and into the future.”


Ollie’s Bargain Outlet announces death of founder and CEO Mark Butler

Mark Butler – Submitted

Mark Butler, founder and CEO of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc., died Sunday, according to company officials.

The 61-year-old passed away unexpectedly while spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with his family.

The board of directors on Monday named John Swygert as interim president and CEO of the company. Swygert has served as executive vice president and COO since January 2018 and previously served as Ollie’s CFO beginning in 2004.

Butler rose to prominence in the Central Pennsylvania business scene by building a multi-billion dollar company based in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, that focuses on providing deep discounts on goods to its customers and selling it with a memorable motto: “Good stuff cheap!”

“Mark was an exceptional entrepreneur, merchant, leader, philanthropist, friend and family man,” said Ollie’s board member Richard Zannino. “From ringing the first sale in the first Ollie’s store in Mechanicsburg in 1982, to leading the company’s highly profitable growth to 345 stores in 25 states, Mark built a successful and enduring retail concept, assembled an incredible team, created thousands of jobs and delivered millions of bargains to our customers, while delivering exceptional shareholder value along the way.”

Butler joined with co-founders Mort Bernstein, Harry Coverman and Oliver “Ollie” Rosenberg to open the chain that sells excess brand-named items and inventories.

Besides his work with Ollie’s, Butler was also a lifelong sports fan. He was currently serving as chairman of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, a non-profit organization creating opportunities for youth in need through baseball. He worked with the Ripken Foundation to fund and build a baseball field at the Boys and Girls Club in Harrisburg in 2013.

Cal Ripken Jr., the National Baseball Hall of Fame member of the Baltimore Orioles and founder of the Ripken Foundation, called Butler a “friend” and a “mentor” through a statement.

“(Butler) cared deeply about his community and brought passion and caring to everything he did,” Ripken said. “The entire team at the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is devastated by the news of his passing and our thoughts are with his family and those closest to him.  His contributions to so many causes, including ours, will be a significant part of his enduring legacy. To say that Mark will be dearly missed doesn’t nearly capture the magnitude that his life has had on so many.”

Butler took over as principal owner of the Harrisburg Senators minor league baseball team in February 2015. He was known for spending time in the crowd talking with attendees of games at FNB Field, and his own Mark L. Butler Foundation donated tickets and baseball experiences to inner-city organizations so local residents could go to the games.

Representatives from the Senators said they were “heartbroken and deeply saddened” by the news of Butler’s death.

“We are just numb,” said Kevin Kulp, president of the Senators. “This is a tragic loss for our community. Mark was such an important part of the culture of our organization. We were extremely fortunate to have had him guiding us. We’ve lost a great boss and a great friend. We’re committed to continuing on in his memory just the way he would have wanted – with passion and integrity.”

This is a developing story.

Read more about Mark Butler and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet:

Deal ticket: While other retailers struggle, Ollie’s continues to grow