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Warehouse Goes to War With Big Guy Prices

Crazy Gideon has joined the discount fray on electronics products. Some items are refurbished, others are new from last season.


Most of us can't remember when there weren't price wars on electronic products. Over the years, many of the combatants--such as ABC Premium and LA Tronics--have dropped out of the battle. And in the present marketplace, the independent dealer is fighting for his life.

Now, however, an old favorite has come back and is giving the major players a bad time. Crazy Gideon has just opened a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles that is stacked to the rafters with deals on television sets, VCRs, cordless phones, camcorders, stereos, answering and fax machines. Some of his prices make the big boys' discounts look high. (Note: no computers here.)

A Panasonic two-line cordless phone was $89 and some name-brand "factory serviced" VCRs started at $89. While TVs, answering machines and faxes have become necessities to many, a bread machine is still a luxury at $180 to $350. So a "refurbished" Hitachi Breadmaster for $89 looked like a steal. Some products have been "factory serviced," according to Gideon, but there is a 90-day warranty on all products here, parts and labor.

Crazy Gideon's is a huge mad house of a warehouse near Union Station where owner Gideon Kodzer exudes enthusiasm for his inventory and its value. He buys up liquidated stock and merchandise that has been returned to manufacturers and retailers alike.

The day I visited, semi trucks full of new Hitachi television sets were being unloaded. These are last year's models, but brand new. A 31-inch set with stereo sound that retailed for $899 is tagged here at $499. For a 35-inch model that retailed for $1,299, Gideon's price is $899.

There also are stereos, speakers, car alarms and camcorders. A Sony 8-millimeter camcorder sells for $469, and a Sony 8-millimeter Hi8 is $849. Some are brand new, some are reconditioned, some are last year's models, some are department store returns--but they all work to the consumers' advantage. And the sales people don't work on commission so there's no attack at the door.

With prices like these, it seems Gideon has declared his own private war on the big guys. Of course, manufacturers and major retailers are fighting back, but once you check out Gideon's operation, you may want to put your money on him. After all, David did take on Goliath.

* Crazy Gideon's, 830 Traction Ave. (east of Alameda Street between 2nd and 3rd streets, Los Angeles. Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Major credit cards. (213) 625-5775.

Weekend Super Sale: You wouldn't think that the folks at Duty Free, purveyors of some of the best prices in town on perfumes, could lower them more. But this weekend, a 1.6-ounce perfume spray of Must by Cartier will go for $89 ($185 retail). Quelques Fleurs by Houbigant in a 1.7 eau de parfum spray, regularly $115, will be $49, and a large (6.5 ounce) spray of Hermes for Men will be on sale for $45 (retail $85). Duty Free, 15053 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 906-1234.

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