(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Ask Ed Adkisson what he'll have in stock at his store in a month, and he won't have a clue of any specific items.
The items in the Closeout Store, owned and run by Adkisson and his family, change significantly every two weeks as a tractor trailer load of closeout merchandise arrives.
"Sometimes we just order a trailer load and don't know what's in it," he said. "Other times, we'll specify 'domestic items' and receive items like bedding, bathroom, curtains and tablecloths."
Opened Dec. 1, all of the merchandise at the Closeout Store -- primarily name-brand -- is overstock, customer returns and shelf pulls from major department stores and is brought in on 53-foot trailers.
Many of the items are what are referred to as "shelf pulls," explained Adkisson. For instance, if there is a labeling or packaging change or minor alteration to a product, all of the old ones are pulled from the shelf and shipped to retailers such as himself.
"Probably 50 percent of the things we receive have never been opened," he said. However, the staff will open breakable items before pricing to make sure everything is OK. And he offers a 30-day warranty for all appliances -- which are also tested before they are put on the floor.
With so many items -- usually about 4,000 per truckload -- it generally takes about a week to empty all the pallets, check the items and price them, said Adkisson.
Because of that, customers come in every couple of days or weekly to check out the new merchandise to save dollars and get a great deal.
The employees have a good time going through the items, too.
"It's fun to dig into a pallet, because it's like Christmas every day," said Adkisson.
Adkisson's father, Bill, agreed. In fact, he said that sometimes it makes it hard to get work done. "We'll show it to everyone and say 'look what we found!'" he said.
The constant change in stock also has a bad side -- a customer may wait to purchase something and it may not be available when they come back. In fact, staff often see someone walk to the spot where an item was, to learn that it was a one-of-a-kind item and has been sold.
"If customers see something they like, we'll work with anyone," said Adkisson's mother, Peggy. If money is tight, for instance, they'll hold an item, as long as a customer gives a down payment.
Adkisson said the store has "something for everyone." It carries clothing, kitchen items, home decor, small furniture, bedroom decor, bathroom items, appliances, toys and tools. Within the next two months, he plans to expand the tool line and bring in some sporting goods items.
Some small furniture items, such as coffee tables, computer armoires and decorations for children's rooms and the home are also sold. Those are pre-
assembled, so customers take it home ready to display. "We want to make sure everything is there," said Adkisson.
There is also a section of the store where damaged furniture, with scratches or other problems, are available at even larger savings. Adkisson said those are popular items for students or others who are just starting out.
Adkisson said the pricing process is "interesting." Generally, customers will save between 50 and 80 percent, although some markdowns are as high as 90 percent of the retail price, he said. At times, items still have their original prices attached; which guides the process, however items are researched to guarantee great savings.
Customers are often "pleasantly shocked" by the prices. "They'll say, I wanted this really bad but I couldn't afford it... this makes it work,'" he said. "Of course everyone loves to save money and get great bargains."
The Adkisson family, which lives in East Prairie, researched a few locations before deciding to set up shop in Sikeston. Adkisson is now confident that Sikeston was the right choice.
"It serves many communities," he said, noting that people come from Mississippi, New Madrid, Stoddard, Scott and Cape Girardeau counties. "We felt Sikeston was a perfect place to serve those outlying communities."
He said the family thought the business concept to have a store this large and offering a great selection of inventory was unique. Adkisson researched the closeout industry for about two years before going into business.
"We wanted to have a store that carried closeout merchandise, but had good lighting, a clean building and a great location," he said. He and other family members said they think that's been accomplished.
Customers appear to agree. "It's been fantastic," Adkisson said of business.
He and family members were realistic when they made projections, but during the first month of business, they exceeded all of their expectations. Although sales have obviously slowed in January, after the Christmas rush, the owners are "very pleased with the hundreds of people that visit the store each week," said Adkisson.
The Closeout Store is located at 2022 East Malone and the phone number is 472-6207. Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted; business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.