Since prices on many items continue to rise, Brent Bishop gets a great deal of satisfaction knowing that all of the items in his Greenbacks stores cost a maximum of a buck.
Apparently, the idea of having a store where everything costs less than $1 is catching on because he will have 30 stores in Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada by the end of June. He has signed leases for stores in Texas and by the end of 1998 will have 40 stores in the chain.In addition, he has leased a 125,000-square-foot building in the Salt Lake International Center and soon will move his distribution center there from 2500 S. Decker Lake Blvd. Within a year he hopes to have a new corporate office.
The old stores in Bishop's chain still contain the name All A Dollar, but the new ones will be known as Greenbacks. Bishop said in his application for a national trademark in 1994 he learned there were some conflicts with All A Dollar in the Eastern states.
So, he decided to call his chain Greenbacks and was surprised that name was still available. By the end of 1998 all of his stores will have the Greenbacks name, but Bishop, president and chief executive officer, said the merchandise mix will remain the same.
Bishop considers Greenbacks a high-volume/low margin business and because of that doesn't think franchising would be successful. As a result, all of the stores are company-owned.
Although some of the Greenbacks stores are larger and some are smaller than 10,000 square-feet they all carry party items such as balloons, crepe paper, cards, gift bags and bows; general gifts such as ceramics, picture frames and vases; hardware; housewares; baby items; health and beauty aids; over-the-counter drugs; candy; snacks; soda pop; some groceries; stationery; home office supplies; and he even carries some day-planner inserts that fit into Franklin Covey Co. binders.
Bishop and some of his employees regularly travel to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of Asia looking for items that he can sell in Greenbacks. He also visits trades shows trying to find saleable items, most of which can be reordered so the inventory doesn't change much.
He is continually looking for product overruns and companies changing packages so he can pick the items up for less money and offer them to the public for $1.
While attending Brigham Young University and working toward bachelor's and master's degrees, Bishop started a property management company and managed apartment and commercial property in Salt Lake City. A couple of years after graduating, he started a financial consulting company with Dennis Webb and Lynn Robbins.
In 1983 that company merged with Hyrum Smith and Richard Winwood, and they started Franklin Institute, a time management company, that later became Franklin Covey Co. Bishop left the firm in 1986, wanting to do something on his own, so he did some real estate consulting for three years.
It was on a trip to New Orleans that Bishop got the idea of selling items for $1 when he saw a store called "Everything's A Dollar."
He told a friend, Paul Jensen, about the idea, and after researching the business and attending trade shows to pin down sources of products they opened their first store in Sandy under the name All A Dollar. They hired people experienced in retailing and soon will have 550 full- and part-time employees.
Eventually, Bishop and Jensen purchased the old Bennett Paint property at 300 West and 2100 South. Bishop remained with the stores and Jensen is developing that property.
Two years ago Bishop brought in a venture capital firm with a minority interest. That has allowed Greenbacks to grow rapidly. If customers keep buying things for $1 at Greenbacks, Bishop said he has plans to add 20-30 stores annually.