Dave Gold, the founder of the 99 Cents Only Stores more than three decades ago who saw it expand into a billion-dollar empire, has died. He was 80.

Gold died on Monday of an apparent attack at his Los Angeles home, his son, Jeff Gold, told the Los Angeles Times in a story published on Saturday.

Gold was 50 when he opened the first store in 1982. He told the Times in 2003 that while working at his father’s liquor store, he discovered that items he discounted to, say, 98 cents or $1.02 never sold out but a 99-cent label was magic.

“When I put a 99-cent sign on anything, it was gone in no time,” he said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have a store where everything was good quality and everything was 99 cents?”

The chain became a family enterprise Gold’s three children and son-in-law worked there in some capacity and the chain’s ads displayed his sense of humour. One congratulated the Los Angeles Dodgers “on losing 99 games.” Another wished Joan Rivers “Happy 99th Facelift.”

The company was sold in 2011 for about $1.6 billion.

Gold became a multimillionaire but lived modestly. His family said he lived in the same middle-class home for nearly five decades with Sherry, his wife of 55 years, and drove the same Toyota Prius he purchased in 2000.

Besides his wife and children, Gold was survived by five grandchildren.

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