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September 3, 2009

Cost Plus woes: I hope we're not going to be looking at another empty storefront


If you need some new dining room furniture, now's the time to head to Cost Plus. The retailer of imported and affordable home furnishings, accessories, exotic food, wine, and other goodies has a big sign in its window at Mt. Diablo and California boulevards: Save up to 50 percent on all dining tables, chairs, benches and more.

The signs for this sale come after some disheartening news for the Oakland-based chain. Its shares plunged 19 percent after it warning of large losses in the third quarter. The Contra Costa Times says that the chain expects to lose up to $24 million in the third quarter of this year, after posting losses of $20.8 million in the second quarter, and $21 million in the third quarter of 2008.


I've reported on Cost Plus' troubles before, and how its new CEO was trying to turn things around and get the retailer back to its roots, to what it always did best, selling affordable international home goodies, as opposed to trying to be another Pottery Barn.


These days, Cost Plus faces the same tough climate as other retailers: in the recession, consumers continuing to tighten their spending.

I like Cost Plus. For my son's start of middle school, we repainted his room and bought him a new book shelf and dresser. Yes, we got a major deal. We also picked up some Thai curry and this Japanese soda that my son is fond of. At Christmas time, Cost Plus has some of the best wrapping paper around.

I hope this store makes it. It's a local, East Bay business, and I have some friends who work for the company. Also, its loss would be a huge one for Walnut Creek, given its prominent location in Olympic Place.

16 comments:

Big Al said...

The problem is the location. Olympia place is a nightmare to go to. Parking sucks and the store fronts are so hard to see/recognize. I'm surprised that Cost Plus has lasted this long. I think that the whole Olympia Place needs to be redesigned especially on the Mt. Diablo Blvd side.

Anonymous said...

"Parking sucks"

What, the huge indoor parking garages in the building and one block over are chopped liver?

DumbAsBricks said...

"chopped liver?"

Yes, parking sucks. It is the same parking that is taken up by movie theater goers, Starbucks, Ruths Chris Steakhouse, Cheesecake Factory, etc etc.

In addition, when you finally do find parking, you have to walk down to a loud traffic intersection. It is a long and lonely walk. Maybe vendor carts would liven it up a bit, but it is a lousy location.

Anonymous said...

DumbAsBricks -

And UGLY too!

Anonymous said...

"It is the same parking that is taken up by movie theater goers, Starbucks, Ruths Chris Steakhouse, Cheesecake Factory, etc etc."

Well, that's why it's a huge parking garage, and more than one to boot.

"In addition, when you finally do find parking, you have to walk down to a loud traffic intersection."

No you don't. There are multiple exits, in fact you can even enter Cost Plus within the garage itself.

Anonymous said...

@10:17
I didn't know that there was a garage entrance. Can you tell us clueless types which floor it is on?

Anonymous said...

Hey SoccerMom, is the Japanese soda "Ramune"? My son loves that too. Must be an 11 year old boy thing.

Anonymous said...

SF tore down the Embarcadero because it was an eyesore. If it had the guts, WC could do the same with Olympia Place and tear it down.

The original plans for that location called for an underground parking garage with pathways and courtyards throughout the project. Despite very strong objections from many residents, the city got in bed with the developer and built the biggest and ugliest building possible in a location that had potential for something beautiful. After all, that's a so called "gateway" to the city.

Let's tell city hall where they can put the "ball of yarn" and TEAR IT DOWN!

Anonymous said...

DumbAsBricks,
Why would anyone frequenting Ruths Chris, Starbucks or Cheesecake Factory want to go down to the garage at Olympia Place. Those businesses have access to 2 separate 3 story parking garages right where they are located at Plaza Escuela. Easier to access, clean, and always parking available there, which cannot be said for Olympia Place.

Anonymous said...

A few months ago I read that Cost Plus would be getting rid of most of their furniture. They lost money big time on those items, and turn their business back to the imported smaller items that helped them start their business in SF in the '70s.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, I hope they make it. I like their stuff, in theory at least. I find their stores inconvenient to get to, non-car-owner that I am, but I figure I'm in the minority on that point. Aren't they now finally selling their goods online at long last? Or no? ... and on the sales front, what's happening with the Smith & Hawken going out of business sale these days? What percentage are their markdowns up to? Anyone checked out the WC location to see how the markdowns are at S&H?

Soccer Mom said...

Sept 3, 11:44 a.m.
I don't know the name of the soda, but you push on the top, which forces a silver marble into the bottle, and that's a very cool thing, I guess, if you're 11.
I think that's the main reason he likes sushi restaurants, the promise of that soda. And he was incredibly delighted to find it at Cost Plus.

Soccer Mom said...

Anon September 3, 1:29 p.m.
Yes, I think you're right about Cost Plus shedding much of its furniture. Sorry, I did find a story when researching this that said something to that effect. The CEO expressed the view that Cost Plus, a few years ago, made a wrong turn and abandoned its core business. It was stocking too much furniture and trying to be another Pottery Barn. Maybe that's what the sale is about. Getting rid of the furniture so it can focus on what else it does well.

obiwan said...

If they go out of business, I hope the City takes down that "public art" globe that sits on top of the building blocking the view of Mt. Diablo for folks driving along Mt. Diablo Boulevard. It's not art - it was just put up there as subliminal advertising - "globe"/Cost Plus "World" Market - get it?

Henry said...

Searching to Buy Dining Room Furniture at reasonable prices, then log on to Spacify.com.

Anonymous said...

Obiwan....the developer put that globe on top of the building instead of giving up any square footage for a courtyard or plaza. With the "public art" ordinance it is assumed that an area would be created for it, but the developer of Olympia Plaza got away with plopping the globe on top of the building and saved himself some money.

The proposed Neiman Marcus follows that same trend with glass projections sprouting from its walls. I guess we can view it from the balcony at Barnes and Noble.