165 Route 4
Hagåtña, Guam 96932
While many are familiar with Ross Dress for Less, one of America’s biggest retail chains known for its discounted prices on accessories and home goods, they may not yet have come to know Hagåtña’s smaller, yet similarly operated, store, Bargain House. Opened in October 2014 across Route 4 from Bank of Guam, Bargain House sells discounted clothing, exercise gear, sporting goods and a variety of outdoor, camping and hunting gear that is largely acquired through liquidation from larger retailers.
Maribel Temerowski, owner of Bargain House, shared with Guam Business how the store operates and what has helped improve its sales.
How would you describe Bargain House?
Bargain House operates similar to Ross, T.J. Maxx or Burlington Coat Factory back in the states. Here [in Guam], we’re more familiar with Ross. We operate on the same channels that Ross does: We buy goods through liquidation and bring in different brand names and products.
Is all of your merchandise acquired through liquidation?
Half the store [merchandise is] liquidated goods … the other half of the store is firearm accessories, tactical gear and apparel that we order specifically directly from the manufacturers. We started off strictly selling items through liquidation, and as we saw the demand for the items that were selling the best, basically for the guys, we went ahead and got the dealer agreements for the items that we couldn’t get consistently.
I’ve been trying different products, seeing what would take off, seeing what the local population wants. Clothes are always a fantastic seller, probably 70% of the business. We brought in a couple of pallets through liquidation of knives, BB guns, pellet guns and tactical gear, and it sold super fast. But that gear is usually inconsistent to get through liquidation. That’s why we reached out and became dealers for some of the items.
What inspired you to start your business?
[My husband and I] love to go to Ross … [but] it’s not a personal experience. It’s cheap, they’re delivering the product at a reasonable price [in a] very simple setting, but that is it. Here, we try to keep it neat and tidy, presentable and personal with it being a family-owned business with a small operation. Even as we grow, what would set us apart is the shopping experience. None of our products are irregulars or overruns that you would find at Ross. The stuff you would find is in-season, and you could find it on shelves right now.
What else sets you apart from other stores?
What we’re trying to develop is a fun shopping experience. What we’ve seen at Ross is that the women want to go to Ross and usually they have to drag their husbands with them. We’ve had fantastic response so far bringing in the tactical gear and apparel, the knives and the firearm accessories … and the men have started to come in with their wives. So we get the women in the back looking at the clothes and the men in the front looking at knives. Now everyone is happy.
What is the process of liquidation?
It’s a huge, huge business. You have reverse logistics companies that handle liquidated goods for the largest manufacturers or retail outlets. Obviously, every dress, every pair of pants, every pair of shoes that a retail store orders does not [all] sell. Eventually, they put it on sale, they move it to a clearance table, and then they have to do something with it. This is a gigantic business in the states.
Another part of liquidation [comes from] online ordering. This is the reason 70% of the goods at liquidation are women’s clothing because women will buy cute dresses online with the intent of sending one back. You get two dresses, the retailer ships them to you, you look at them, you ship one back at no charge; they can’t put it back on the shelf. Generally the stuff that’s handled from a dot com doesn’t come out of a store; it comes out of a distribution center. It goes back to the distribution center, but it doesn’t go back into the supply chain, it goes to liquidation.
How have your sales grown since you first opened?
Since the day we’ve opened, we’ve increased sales probably by 20% to 25%, mainly because we’ve introduced different products. When we started, we probably only had half the merchandise we have now.
How many employees do you have?
We have a total of five employees: two full-time and three part-time.
Any future plans for Bargain House?
On Oct. 1 we will open at Compadres Mall. We’re currently only operating at about 1,100 square feet. We have enough supplies in our store, in our garage and in the container to fill 3,000 square feet. Compadres Mall will be about 2,500 square feet. We’ll see how that goes. Here we started off small and simple.
Do you usually display everything on your floor?
That is our goal. We always try to get everything out on the floor as soon as possible. We will have additional pallets of clothing. We are literally bringing in new merchandise every day. As for the tactical gear and apparel, we try to put everything on the floor.
How often do you receive shipments?
Every two weeks we have something new coming in. We’re always changing it up. We know what Ross has, so we try to carry different brands. The items are all brand new. If you were to shop online, our prices are lower.