July 5, 2022
Shane Oien is thinking big and going more upscale with his take on the increasingly popular concept of tote-based or checkout-based discount stores.
His store, called Crate, opens in an 11,200 square foot space at 2707 S. Carolyn Ave., which was formerly the headquarters of CarsForSale.com.
Oien, who lives in Sioux Falls, opened his first Crate location in Rapid City a year ago.
“I know independent discount stores, and we wanted to venture into that and do it with a more upscale look and feel, not a thrift store type feel,” he said.
It’s a family business—his sister, niece, and husband are partners in the Rapid City store—and his nephew and wife and Rapid City associates own the Sioux Falls location.
In Rapid City, they started with a 5,100 square foot store, quickly moved to a bigger store, and are now looking for an even bigger location.
“The model is pretty cool,” Oien said. “We are sort of hybrids.”
Like some other bin-based stores, Crate starts each week with mystery bins of goods. Everything in the bin sells for $8 on the first day of operation, $6 on the second day, $3 the next day, and $1 on the last day.
“And we’re moving the product forward and starting again next week,” Oien said. “That’s what really intrigued me, having been in retail, it was inventory management. There is no inventory management. I don’t need to re-order a purple scarf to restock the shelf.
Crate will also have a more traditional discount section in addition to weekly rotating bins. This will include larger items such as larger furniture and appliances which will start at 50% off the retail price.
“Retail will stay out. We try to manage this for two to three weeks, and if it doesn’t move, we may move it to an online business or decide it’s going in the trash like treasure.
The store also offers Apple products and other computers and laptops, which come with warranties and a return policy.
“We don’t know what we’re getting until it arrives and we process the load and remove anything that’s unsaleable,” Oien said. “We started traveling the country, going to trade shows…and really exploring this concept of a trash can store, but we wanted to reflect and model an upscale look, so we put a lot of thought into decor and design. We are in the process of completely redoing the building… so as not to have the impression of being in a discount store.
Bins include everything from clothes and makeup to food and household items.
If consumers seem to be getting more cash-strapped, “I might turn to even more essentials,” Oien said. “Some may not try to find a speaker or a set of pans, but if they’re having trouble getting Crest toothpaste or Airborne vitamins, we’ve got that kind of product. That’s how much we want it. promote or bring it to the fore.
The Sioux Falls location will also have space to eventually sell appliances and bedding, he said.
The hope is to open in mid-July – around the same time he is also partnering with a group to open a store in Oklahoma City.
“We’re not the first bin store in town, but we’re doing things differently and expanding a concept that’s been working very well in Rapid and bringing it home to where I live,” he said. “We’ve found reliable sources (for products), and those relationships are very, very important to know that you’re getting quality.”