Edit ModuleShow Tags

Bargain Hunter

Ocean State Job Lot CEO Marc Perlman has turned his love of wheeling and dealing into an empire that brought in more than half a billion dollars in revenue last year.



Photography by Pat O'Connor

Marc Perlman is like a kid in a candy store. His.

He is walking the aisles of the Johnston Ocean State Job Lot, the company’s newest, a former Shaw’s. The store is clean, organized, bright and airy, unlike some in the thirty-five-year-old chain that are older, cramped and crowded, but with an adventurous sense of disheveled charm.

Perlman, CEO and co-founder of Job Lot, knows where everything is, how much it costs, where it comes from, how it’s made. Purchase orders for every item here, mostly overstocked, discontinued or closed-out goods from top-end suppliers and manufacturers, cross his desk for approval. He knows the stuff like a parent knows his kids — and talks about it as proudly.

At a wall of reading glasses, a Job Lot staple, he excitedly shows me $3 models and explains in engrossing detail the material they’re made with and why the polished lenses are better than cheaper models, his pudgy fingers wiggling the spring arms. “Now some people say, ‘We can get them for a buck at the dollar store,’ but they’re not this good,” he says, holding a pair aloft. “But we can’t explain all this to every customer.”

But if customers can’t discern the difference in value? There’s an equally huge display of buck-a-pairs right next to it.

Perlman pulls a blanket in a clear plastic bag off a shelf, opens it and encourages me to feel the plush softness within.

“This is a great blanket for $18, in a lousy package, no markings, nothing fancy,” he says of the WestPoint Grand Patrician five-star hotel blanket. “Know why? It was mail-order, so they didn’t need a fancy package.”

We move to a stack of bed linens, which the manufacturer erroneously marked as having a thread count of 600 that in reality was 350, allowing Perlman to do what he does best: buy low and sell at a reasonable profit. “We’re not gonna run away from someone else’s mistake, as long as we point out the error and people know they’re getting a 350-count set,” he says, beaming.

Just to be sure, they had the linens tested for thread count. Which begs the question: Why the hell would you test sheets? He smiles: “We’re from the Reagan school of thought: Trust but verify.”
 

To read more of this story please visit your nearest newsstand or click the link below.


 
 
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Extras

Gift Subscriptions

Gifting the best of Rhode Island all year long just got better - only $17.97 for a combo print/digital subscription.

Social Media

Socialize with us! See what we're posting on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

The 401

Sign up for our weekly newsletter and you'll be in the know with the five best events of the week as well as additional local food, shopping, home and design news.

Engaged 2015

Read the 2015 edition of Engaged!

The Dish

The Dish is a monthly newsletter covering Rhode Island’s food scene and includes recipes, restaurant openings, events, and Q&As with local chefs.

GuideRI.com

Explore Rhode Island with our mobile friendly website. Get the inside scoop on restaurants, activities, shopping destinations and more.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

28 Best Seafood Restaurants in Rhode Island

Taylor Swift: The New Girl

When famously confessional pop star Taylor Swift bought a house in one of the state’s most reserved communities, the neighbors wondered how they might make her feel welcome. Then came the paparazzi.

Whipstitch Sewing Cafe Opens in North Providence

Whether you're an experienced sewer or would just like to try it out, a new cafe has machines you can rent and a library dedicated to crafts for inspiration.

2015 Summer Outdoor Movie Series Schedules

Grab your friends and family, a picnic blanket and some snacks and check out the numerous venues all over the state that offer a variety of outdoor movie screenings.

10 Great Summer Festivals in Rhode Island

Mark your calendar for our favorite summer events.