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Valley Talk

Why the Rich Get Richer When 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. was looking for a site for one of its new stores, the company decided to move into wealthy Woodland Hills, of all places. One might think the discount retailer would locate in poorer neighborhoods, where people have fewer bucks and might be more appreciative of a bargain. But company founder David Gold says 99 Cents Only stores do best in higher-income areas. In fact, the company’s Beverly Hills store is the top performer in the chain. It seems wealthy people enjoy a bargain like anyone else. In fact, that might help explain how they became wealthy in the first place. Gold has found that rich folks don’t like to go into poor neighborhoods to find a discount store. Lower-income shoppers, on the other hand, don’t mind traveling into the wealthier areas to do their shopping. By building in upscale areas, Gold said he captures both lower- and upper-income shoppers. The new store in Woodland Hills, which opened March 2, is on Ventura Boulevard at Corbin Avenue. Survey Says…. The San Fernando Valley might have 1.6 million people, but apparently its residents still see it as a small community. While most (20 percent) in a recent opinion study said it was the central location that they liked best about living in the Valley, another 6 percent said it was the Valley’s small-town atmosphere. An additional 10 percent said it was the quiet that ranks tops. The survey, commissioned by the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, also asked people what they least liked. Near the top of the list was population and overcrowding, which 16 percent of respondents complained about. It came in second to traffic, with 18 percent. Take a Left Over There With several cities vying for the attention of Health Net, it’s not surprising to find city officials surveying the competition and trying to keep score. After all, Health Net, one of the San Fernando Valley’s largest employers, promises to bring the city it chooses not only employment growth, but added revenue and even population increases, so each of the contenders has a lot at stake in the selection. The HMO, which is currently housed in 300,000 square feet of space in Woodland Hills, might remain in its current offices, but officials have also been making the rounds in Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Clarita and other cities. To insiders, the talk about the contenders seems pretty clear, but to outsiders it can be a bit confusing. Take a recent rundown offered by a Burbank city official. “We think it’s going to be between us and Stay Put,” he said. No, the Valley didn’t secede and adopt an odd name while you weren’t looking. “Stay Put” is Warner Center, where Health Net is currently located. Love That Dress The Grammy Awards might be over, but Jennifer Lopez’s barely there dress is still being, um, revealed as a big winner. Grammy organizers report that a photo of Lopez and David Duchovny, who presented the first award of the night, was downloaded 642,917 times from the time it hit the Web during the show on Feb. 23 until the end of the following day. In fact, the photo gallery has been the most-visited section of the site, and the shot of Lopez and Duchovny still available online was by far the most requested shot. The site was highly publicized and officials were anticipating huge numbers of visitors, but there’s no doubt Lopez’s green Versace wisp of a dress helped boost the final tally. “She did the red carpet with Puffy (her boyfriend, Sean “Puffy” Combs), and I got sunburned from the flashbulbs. It was incredible,” said Adam Sandler, spokesman for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which presents the Grammys. Disastrous Decision The airlines don’t show plane-crash films on their flights. So it might seem a little strange that the 1973 blockbuster “The Poseidon Adventure” will be screened aboard the Queen Mary on March 11. The epic sea disaster unnerved audiences everywhere with its gut-wrenching tale of 10 passengers trying to survive after a giant wave turns an ocean liner upside down. But the screening is intended for a good cause to raise money for Queen Mary restoration and historic preservation. Some cast members, including Shelley Winters, are even expected to board the boat for the occasion. The luxury liner was actually used as a set for many of the film’s key sequences but hasn’t left port in decades. So everyone should be safe. “It doesn’t move around that much,” said Queen Mary spokeswoman Lovetta Kramer.

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