Recently, I helped stage a "Dress for Success" fashion show aimed at the graduating seniors at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. The fashion coordinators at The $5 Clothing Store helped put together several outfits for some of the young women in the senior class who served as models. Beno's in downtown Los Angeles provided the sharp and affordable apparel for the young men.
The audience of 850 male and female students was dazzled by the outfits and the incredibly low prices. A skirt, blouse, vest and belt on one model came to $26--total.
I have been a fan of this chain since its opening in 1981, when every piece of merchandise was indeed no more than $5. Today the top price is $8, and during sales that goes down to $5. Owners Morris Dym and Larry Smith have stayed with the original name but expanded to 88 stores, with 52 in the Los Angeles area.
You will think you went through a time warp when you see the merchandise and the prices. Cotton blouses for $6? Blazers for $8? Their target market is women from 16 to 25, but according to Dym most of their customers range from 14 to 35. He's being quite modest--I shop here occasionally and I passed that 35 marker many moons ago.
My most recent visit to a $5 Clothing Store saved me a tidy sum on hair circlets. I had been to a major specialty store on the Westside where the selection was nice but priced from $7 to $11. At the nearest $5 Clothing Store on Sepulveda Boulevard near National Boulevard there was a great selection of hair accessories. The same circlets here were $1 and $1.50. I bought six, and saved much more than $35.
The bulk of the inventory in these well-maintained stores is made up of separates in women's apparel. One-pocket 100% cotton T-shirts move fast at $5. These are the same shirts that sell for $10.50 at a store very popular with the younger crowd. Oversized V-neck T-shirts with shoulder pads were $6. Cotton Lycra stirrup pants in solids and prints were $8. You might find these at another major discounter for $12 and think you got a deal.
Merchandise arrives daily at the $5 Clothing Store warehouses. Larry Smith purchases first-quality close-outs from all over the world, and it's almost all current. You will be surprised at some of the well-known labels; they assure their sources that they won't publicize their names so you will have to see for yourself.
For everyday basics in women's apparel, you simply can't beat The $5 Clothing Store. There are 11 locations in the San Fernando Valley and northern Los Angeles County: Canyon Country, Canoga Park, Granada Hills, Lancaster, Northridge, Oxnard, Palmdale, Reseda (two stores), Simi Valley and Sun Valley. For the store nearest you, call (800) 766-5555.
Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Thursday in Valley View. Questions about shopping may be sent to her, in care of Valley View, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Letters will not be answered individually, but topics of general interest will be discussed in future columns.