KISSIMMEE -- Tongue-in-cheek chain Ollie's Bargain Outlet is looking to open its first Florida stores offering, as it slogan says, "good stuff cheap."
The Harrisburg, Pa., company has about 170 stores in 16 states and announced in January it would open a Southeast distribution center in Commerce, Ga., northeast of Atlanta. That distribution would serve the first Florida stores, said Jeff Powers, Ollie's director of real estate for North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida. Powers was in Florida attending the International Council of Shopping Centers Florida Conference in Kissimmee earlier this week.
Ollie's is looking for locations first in the Florida Panhandle and Jacksonville area, he said, and won't skip further south first. The company opened about six Georgia stores earlier this year.
Ollie's model would lead to an easy entry into Florida.
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The stores typically open inside former grocery and furniture store spaces, about 28,000 to 35,000 square feet. That shouldn't be a problem as several shuttered Sweetbay's throughout the state remain without a new tenant along with dozens of other former Publix, Winn-Dixie and Kash n'Karry spaces still left over.
The stores carry discontinued and salvaged goods, calling it "semi-lovely merchandise," in its no-frills environment. Ollie's plans to open 20 to 30 stores per year as it continues into new markets and fills in existing territory, according to a real estate flyer handed out at the ICSC convention.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.