In the haute couture boutiques that line Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, shoppers would be hard pressed to find much priced below $100, much less $10 or even $1. But one L.A. retailer wants to change that.

Last week, deep discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores said it’s looking for space to open a store on the high-end shopping street.

Eric Schiffer, chief executive for the City of Commerce-based chain, said a dollar store would do well in the affluent area.

“Rich people like deals more than anybody,” he said. “In fact, our highest sales volume store is located only a few blocks from Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard.”

But 99 Cents Only, known for its humorous advertising, has made similar claims in the past, so the announcement wasn’t taken too seriously.

Jay Luchs, a broker who represents most properties on Rodeo Drive for CBRE Group Inc. in West Los Angeles, said it must be a joke.

“It’s not true, obviously,” he said.

The Rodeo Drive Committee, a non-profit group of merchants and property owners on the ritzy street, is particularly dismissive of the idea.

In a statement responding to a Business Journal inquiry, the group said: “Based upon some of the highest commercial retail 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.”

Even if Beverly Hills businesses and residents did take the announcement to heart, the company would likely face opposition to such a move.

Earlier this year, the City Council extended the life of an ordinance that prevents “high-impact convenience stores” from opening inside Beverly Hills borders. The ordinance has so far kept a 7-Eleven from opening on Robertson Boulevard. There’s little reason to believe 99 Cents Only would have better luck on Rodeo.

Rent would be a problem for the chain, too.

Luchs said space on the street typically leases for between $30 and $45 per square foot per month.

Rent for the 99 Cents Only store on Wilshire, by contrast, is less than $2 per square foot per month, according to commercial real estate data company CoStar Group Inc.

Schiffer acknowledged that finding affordable space would be a challenge.

“We need to find a location where we can get a good deal on rent,” he said. “We’ll give the landlord a discount: They can buy anything in the store for 98 cents.”

Revolving Doors

Beverly Hills bakery Sprinkles plans to expand its presence from one shop to at least three in Los Angeles before the end of the year. One will open at the Grove in the Fairfax district and another at downtown L.A. retail center Figat7th. Also coming to Figat7th are lunch spots Mendocino Farms and Melt. … After 15 years serving pizza, pasta and sandwiches, owners of Highland Park restaurant Italiano’s Pizza are selling the parlor in order to focus on a business they own in Pico Rivera. The 2,500-square-foot pizzeria was on the market last week for $225,000. … Dallas cookie company Cookies by Design, which sells bouquets made from frosted sugar cookies, opened a corporate-owned store on Lindero Canyon Road in Thousand Oaks last week, one of only a few for the heavily franchised retailer. … Whisky company Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Ltd. in Scotland opened a store called Luxury From Scotland earlier this month. The shop, near its U.S. offices in South Pasadena, will sell furniture crafted from centuries-old whisky casks. … Argentine menswear company Etiqueta Negra made its debut in Los Angeles last week when it opened a shop within a shop at Bloomingdales at the Beverly Center.

At Your Service

City of L.A. hospitality company SBE, which develops and operates hotels, restaurants and nightlife venues, has named Sam Bakhshandehpour president. Bakhshandehpour came to SBE after 12 years in the West Coast office for JP Morgan Securities. Bakhshandehpour will work alongside SBE founder Sam Nazarian, who will continue in his role as chairman and chief executive. The company has also named Veronica Smiley chief marketing officer. Smiley formerly worked as vice president of corporate marketing for Caesars Entertainment. At SBE, she’ll focus her efforts on domestic and international markets. … Taos Footwear, a women’s shoe company in Torrance, has named Bill Langrell chief operating officer. Langrell was promoted after working for seven years as director of operations. In his new role, he will oversee product development, manufacturing, marketing, sales, customer service and other operations. … Rory Hermann stepped down from his role as executive chef at Bouchon Bistro Beverly Hills last month to spend more time with his family. David Hands, Bouchon’s former executive sous chef, has replaced him. Both men moved to Los Angeles in 2009 from New York to help launch the traditional French restaurant.

Staff reporter Bethany Firnhaber can be reached at bfirnhaber@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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