Sol Price: History Maker

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    The man who revolutionized 20th century retailing with discount warehouse clubs will be honored as one of San Diego’s history makers.

    The late Sol Price, the man behind FedMart Stores and later Price Club, was as important to the world of retail sales as Henry Ford was to the auto industry, according to David Kahn, Executive Director of the San Diego History Center.

    Before his death in December 2009, Price served as a mentor for Costco CEO and San Diegan Jim Sinegal. He counseled then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama suggesting he campaign with his wife and proved to be an inspiration for Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton who once claimed he stole many ideas from Price.

    With $50,000 in capital, Price opened his first FedMart in 1954 at 2380 Main Street, across the street from the tuna canning factories. He required shoppers to spend $2 for a lifetime membership and opened for Saturday hours – both were unheard of in San Diego’s retail industry. FedMart, under its own brand, pioneered large consumer package sizes, offering a 20-pound tub of detergent when the largest box offered in a standard grocery store was just 84 ounces.

    The strongest evidence of FedMart’s impact on the retail world occurred in 1962 when Walmart, Kmart, and Target opened their first stores, according to the San Diego History Center.

    Price was fired from FedMart and so opened the first Price Club in July 1976 with a Morena Boulevard location. That company merged with Costco in 1993.

    Costco’s CEO Sinegal will be one of a number of business leaders on hand to honor Price at an event planned in March.

    The Costco-themed event will be a fun-filled, no-frills, soirée reflective of the style in which Sol Price ran his stores making them so successful.

    For more information, go to the center’s website.