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VALLEY WEEKEND | BARGAINS

Discounts Are Tie That Binds Disparate Goods

Odd mix of ceiling fans, vacuum cleaners and karaoke players provides a steady flow of business year-round, store owner says.

May 02, 1996|GERI COOK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An interesting mix of merchandise greets the first-time shopper at Discount Sales, but there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the selection, at least until you talk to owner Art Michener.

"What," you ask "could ceiling fans, vacuum cleaners and karaoke players possibly have in common?"

"Nothing at all," is his answer. "Vacuums are a steady sales, while ceiling fans sell in the summer and karaoke players are big at holiday time." So the odd combination that makes up his total inventory is all part of Michener's own particular merchandising plan to maintain a steady flow of business throughout the year.

With summer looming, let's look at ceiling fans first. You'll find several brands here: the elite Casablanca along with more affordable brands such as Regency, Concord, Sierra and Vista. The Stealth model from Casablanca carries a suggested retail price of $1,020. The fan can be found almost everywhere for less than that, but the Discount Sales price is a deeply discounted $549.

The biggest seller, says Michener, is Regency, which has a basic line without the electronic controls that the pricey Casablanca has. These have the three-speed pull chains (not exactly a hardship) and retail for $400 to $450, but are sold here for $229.

In the vacuum cleaner department, Panasonic is the only brand the store carries, and the discounts are sizable. The top of the line, Model 6837, carries a suggested retail price of $329.95. (I have one and have found it to be the best vacuum I've ever had.) Of course, you can find them for less, but for $219.95? That's a saving of more than $100.

Home entertainment has added a let's-put-on-a-show element with the introduction of karaokes a few years ago. Michener is currently clearing out his five lines of laser disc players to convert his inventory to the CD + G types, which he says are simply more convenient. The laser disc karaokes on hand retail for anywhere from $550 to $1,050, but the clearance tags at Discount Sales read $250 to $800. And for those who already are enjoying karaoke sessions, DK discs with 18 songs sell here for $30, instead of $40.

Discount Sales, 8438 Sunland Blvd., Sun Valley. Hours: Monday -Friday 10 a.m.-6 pm., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Discover, MasterCard, Visa. (818) 767-7616.

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WEEKEND SUPER SALES: One of our all-time favorite events of the year is the Mikasa Warehouse Sale, which takes place Saturday and Sunday. From 20% to 70% off on dinnerware, flatware, stemware and a lot more. A couple of years ago, we purchased a complete service for four that would have retailed at $300. My price was $70. There are still many deals that are that good. One word of warning: When buying a discontinued pattern, plan ahead and get extra pieces. The Mikasa Warehouse Sale is Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 20633 S. Fordyce Ave., Long Beach. Well worth the drive. (310) 886-3700.

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