Skip to content

5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Ollie's Bargain Outlet Employees 

You'll be asked a lot of questions when checking out.

Ollie's Bargain Outlet is a popular chain of discount closeout retailers primarily located in the Southeast, although it was founded in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The chain was started in 1982 by Mort Bernstein, Mark Butler, Harry Coverman, and Oliver "Ollie" Rosenberg, who became the company's namesake and mascot.

The chain now boasts 467 locations in 29 states and offers major price markdowns on everything from pet supplies to pantry staples. Many of the items—like gardening supplies, clothing, and books—are unsold or overstocked merchandise purchased from other retailers.

If this all sounds enticing, or if you're already a regular Ollie's shopper, there are certain things you should be aware of before a trip to the store. Read on to discover warnings from ex-Ollie's Bargain Outlet employees, from why you shouldn't sign up for Ollie's Army to why the store may be disorganized.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Big Lots Employees.

Signing up for Ollie's Army isn't as easy as you think.

ollie's bargain outlet
Sunshower Shots / Shutterstock

When you're checking out, it's likely that the cashier will ask you to provide your email address so you can get an Ollie's Army card, the store's loyalty program. Unlike most retailers, Ollie's then makes the customer go through additional steps. Once you receive the card, you'll have to log in to the website with your new card number and your mailing address to get your rewards. The program will send you a 15-percent-off bonus for signing up and you'll then earn points while shopping.

But do be aware that employees can be pressured into getting new loyalty members. "You are required to get sign-ups for the loyalty card, Ollie's Army, or else you may realize your hours have been cut," said an employee on the job board Simply Hired.

On Indeed, an ex-manager agreed. "Higher ups are also fixated on the Ollie Army card. If you don't have a certain percentage of new signups a day, you can be written up and terminated. Yes, you can be FIRED for people telling you no, even if you are asking every customer that does not have a card."

You will be asked to make a donation.

man with wallet getting money out
perfectlab / Shutterstock

Ollie's cashiers will also ask shoppers to make charitable donations when they check out, supporting causes such as the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and Feeding America. But this is another area where employees are pressured to meet goals.

Multiple past workers complain that management tracks donations. A former sales associate in Florida wrote on Indeed that their store was "very competitive with store rewards and donation percentages."

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings From Ex-Dollar Tree Employees.

Your local store could be disorganized.

Drew300 / Shutterstock

Like many other discount chains, it's possible that some stores will be disorganized. It seems the reason for the mess is that new inventory is not ordered systematically, and when it comes in, the stores are understaffed.

A former sales supervisor said on GlassDoor that Ollie's had "unrealistic expectations including unloading freight and amount of time to put on shelf." Another ex-sales associate said, "It's only you and maybe 2 other employees the whole day that have to do EVERYTHING."

The store also has no planograms, according to several ex-employees, which are the usual floorplans that dictate where products go.

There could be issues with the barcodes.

sticker barcode on an item
Marko Rupena / Shutterstock

Apparently, barcodes not scanning is a common occurrence at Ollie's. "They need ways to cut down on tagging things and have items scan," wrote a freight flow supervisor on GlassDoor. A sales supervisor cited a con of working at Ollie's as: "Failure to update computer system that allows items to be scanned at checkouts, this would eliminate wasted man hours spent ticketing."

And if you're wondering why the barcodes are stickers, it's a security measure. "I worked at Ollie's for all of one day forever ago, and we had to hand sticker everything. It's so you can't swap stickers and get a cheaper price," an ex-employee tweeted.

For more shopping advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Staff might not be getting overtime pay.

ollie's discount store parking lot
Photointoto / Shutterstock

Allegedly, Ollie's has not always given overtime to those employees who earned it.

In Aug. 2022, a lawsuit was brought against Ollie's in New York for "misclassifying store managers to skirt paying them overtime," according to the New York Law Journal. "According to the lawsuit, store managers are told upon hiring they will work 50 hours per week alongside hourly employees who are paid overtime after they eclipse 40 hours per week. However, the managers work many more hours, usually between 50 and 60 hours a week without additional compensation, the lawsuit said."

And according to former employees, long hours are not uncommon. On Simply Hired, a manager wrote, "As a supervisor: Expect a minimum of an 10-12 hour day on 1st shift and a minimum of a 12-16 hour day on 2nd shift. This is every day and the pay compared to others is low." On Indeed, a manager added, "Pay is below average and work load is above average. Payroll hours are minimal and employees often feel overworked and stressed."

NOTE: Best Life only includes information from social media and job boards when there is corroboration from multiple sources. These comments have not been independently verified, however, and are the opinions of the people who posted them.

Filed Under
 •  •