Council Plans ‘City Store’ to Sell Surplus : Business: Outlet would market old parking meters and similar items as well as new souvenirs to fill coffers.


If you have ever had a hankering to own your own parking meter, fire hose, or street sign, Glendale is about to make your day.

The City Council on Tuesday made plans to open a “city store” to market the city’s numerous surplus goods and new gift items, such as customized mugs, jewelry, T-shirts and baseball caps featuring the Glendale logo, in hopes of generating revenue for the city.

“The public has always wanted to know how we are going to take care of the deficit. They often say, ‘Why don’t you find a different way to raise revenues besides taxes,’ ” Mayor Larry Zarian said. “(The new store) will work if it doesn’t compete with the private sector, and we can do it by providing things that the private sector can’t.”


If the project doesn’t work, the mayor said, the council can always reverse its decision.

The city store idea was born about six months ago when, as part of the “working smarter” campaign, City Manager David H. Ramsay asked city employees to come up with ways to better the city’s financial prospects in the recessionary economy, said library staff member Lulu Falls, who is on the store committee.

A Glendale employee visiting San Diego had discovered a booming city store there and relayed the idea. San Diego hopes to make about $250,000 in profit this year, according to a staff report.

Upon hearing the news about six months ago, Ramsay asked all city employees to save their respective department’s surplus items, whether a water meter, flashing lights from police cars or an old stop sign. The city would market the goods instead of disposing of them as scrap or selling them for salvage for far less than they are worth, he said.

“This is a creative way to help fund city services,” Falls said. “A lot of the employees are excited about this. And this fits in with the city’s philosophy of recycling.

“If there is a demand for these items, and we believe there is, this is a real win-win situation for everybody.”

The city will own the business but plans to contract with a private firm to run the enterprise and split the profit, Assistant City Manager Robert K. McFall said.


Details on a private operator, start-up costs or a location are not final, but the store, set to open by Aug. 1, will be “in a retail area . . . so we can take advantage of the foot traffic,” McFall said. If the project is successful, profits may be used to open more stores in the city, he said.

As the San Diego store did in its first year, Glendale make about $25,000 to $30,000 after start-up costs are covered, Ramsay said. But the business can expect to make more than $200,000 in the ensuing years, he said. Beyond the initial city investment, the store will not need any public subsidy, the city manager said.

And in time, Ramsay said, the city plans to market the surplus and new sale items through catalogue sales, direct mail and by licensing to other outlets.