Clothing for A Buck

Posted on: January 14th, 2012 by O.D.  

Reprinted from the Los Feliz Ledger, By Colin Stutz, Ledger Contributing Writer

LOS FELIZ — On a recent Saturday morning, a group of eager shoppers amassed outside the colorful Ozzie Dots vintage clothing and costume shop on Hollywood Boulevard, waiting for 11 o’clock to roll around. There for the store’s monthly “Dollar Sale”—where racks of clothes are brought curbside and each article is sold for just $1—the 15 or so bargain-hunters hung around and chatted amongst themselves.

There was an elderly couple from up the hill, a hip-looking boyfriend and girlfriend in their mid-twenties, a group of thirty-and fortysomethings, and others, several of whom have been coming for more than a decade in search of a good deal. Soon, the glass front door swung open, and with a few employees the store’s owner Daniel Hazen pushed out the day’s sale selection.

“Just two racks today, people,” he said before stepping back and watching the throng dig in.

Pulling jackets, shirts, dresses and whatever else in an out-there assortment of styles, cuts and colors, the customers urgently grabbed their garments and brought them inside the store for further inspection and purchase.

The sale is a way Hazen keeps Ozzie Dot’s inventory fresh.

Clothes that don’t sell after three months are dropped to half-price for another month and then bargained off at the $1 Saturday Sale.

This month’s selection was light because Halloween had wiped them out, said Hazen, but stocks vary and sometimes they’ll have six racks on the street with even more clothes inside to restock. Forty or more customers may show up, and so they’ll keep them at bay until the sale opens with velvet ropes like those outside a Hollywood club.

“Within a half an hour we’re down to two racks,” said Hazen, 63 with grey crew cut hair, protruding ears, a mustache and goatee. “These people are just… You saw some of them, they were snatching it up.”

Inside the shop, regular Howard “Howie” Seth Cohen, dressed in a red sweatshirt and plaid green pants, checked out his choices on a small portion of the glass display counter that shows off knickknacks ranging from jewelry to plastic bugs. He said some of his best finds in the past have included furs and three-piece suits.

“Sometimes this whole area will be crowded, so there are certain rules in place,” he said. “You can’t put the clothes on the ground and you can’t use the changing room. So you have to be able to share this space to put your stuff down and tell whether or not it fits.”

Hazen’s plan for the Dollar Sale began in the ’70s when he and his two brothers each managed stores within the Aardvark’s vintage clothing chain around the Los Angeles area.

The Aardvark’s owner incentivized them to bring up revenue with an offer to share profits, and soon they were “ragging” the shops, says Hazen, discounting older stock to move inventory out and “clean the stores up,” and experienced great success doing so.

In 1985 Hazen bought his store—then in the building where Pull My Daisy currently sits on Sunset Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue—and changed the name to Ozzie Dots, carrying on his methods with the Dollar Sale.

“We wanted to make sure that we had something special,” said Hazen. “We’ve tried to have lower prices and then we also wanted to make sure everyone gets a deal. She’ll attest to that,” he continued with a chuckle, motioning to Sarah Barber, his 27-year-old employee with pink and black mascara, dyed red hair, dressed in a blue leopard-print cardigan and black pants. “All her clothes are from Ozzie Dots.”

“Yeah, most the stuff I have is from here actually,” she said. “And I get more compliments on the things that cost me a dollar from the Dollar Sale than the vintage Chanel I’ve been collecting forever. It’s demented.”

But for all the fuss, the sale’s regulars don’t want the word getting out.

“It’s like their goldmine,” said Hazen. “They’re the hardcore group. They really don’t want anyone to know because they get easy pickings.”

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