US Dollar Store Eyes Branch on Chic Rodeo Drive

US dollar store chain 99 Cents Only wants to open a branch on the ultra-chic Beverly Hills shopping street Rodeo Drive -- even if high-end retailers there say it won't be able to afford the rent.

There is little sign of the global economic downturn on the exclusive street, which boasts luxury boutiques ranging from jewelers Bulgari and Cartier to designer clothing stores such as Giorgio Armani and Gucci, and perfumiers like Chanel.

Rodeo Drive is also within well-heeled strolling distance from some of the most expensive hotels in Los Angeles, and is frequented by multi-millionaire Hollywood stars buying the latest fashion items to wear on the red carpet.

But 99 Cents Only Stores boss Eric Schiffer believes that in still-strained economic times there would be demand for its bargain products, even on one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.

The chain "is excited to launch a search for prime retail space on famed Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills," he said in a statement.

"We are confident a Rodeo Drive store will be successful, because our stores do well in affluent areas; in fact, our highest sales volume store is located only a few blocks from Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard," he added.

But the Rodeo Drive Committee, which represents storeowners there, was not so sure.

"Based upon some of the highest ... rents in the world and the fact that Rodeo Drive is experiencing the street's highest occupancy in recent memory, it is highly unlikely that a 99 Cents store will ever open on the street.

"The company issued a similar statement 10 years ago, and the announcement never came to fruition," it said.

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