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Clothing store owner denies business name is gang-related

Lonnie Jacobs, owner of O.G. Outlet, specializes in apparel that youngpeople want at prices they can afford.

Lonnie Jacobs insists he could do without the kind of publicity he sayshe's received lately.

The 26-year-old clothing store operator says the rumors are wrong --his store isn't gang-related, despite they way some people interpret thename.

To some, the letters in the Highland Center shop's name, O.G. Outlet,stand for Original Gangster -- a street slang term. To Jacobs and his wife,Carrie, 21, it stands for a common exclamation, one they hope customerswill use when they see the outlet's prices.

I have had parents come in and say they heard it was a gangsterstore, Jacobs says. That's not it at all.

I was thinking, `Oh Gee, what a great deal.' It's something yousay. I said that when I saw this tank top and shorts. I asked the guy howmuch it was, and he said, `12 bucks.' I said, `Oh gee.'

As for some of his merchandise, such as the marijuana-leaf print T-shirts,Jacobs concedes they're inappropriate for kids. The couple say they won'tsell them to anyone under age 18.

That's our rule because it's not right, selling it to some kidin high school because he wants to look cool, Jacobs says.

For the Jacobses, the selling point is price -- low-price clothes, toys,jewelry, even frilly beauty-pageant dresses for preschoolers. T-shirts arethe mainstay.

The bottom line is I sell T-shirts three for 10 bucks, Jacobssays. This is what attracts the people. Then they see the more expensivestuff.

Jacobs launched the enterprise in humble circumstances after moving herein 1993 from Reno, Nev. He used to bid on -- and win -- auctions on thecontents of abandoned storage units. Managers hold the auctions from timeto time to settle unpaid rent.

Jacobs would clean out the storage units, rent a spot at a flea market,and sell off the contents. If he got lucky, he could make a few hundreddollars from one of these deals.

One day, at one of his sales, someone suggested that he go to big, wholesalers'swap meets in California. At these sales a person could buy really cheap,then mark up the price a bit and still offer low-cost merchandise.

The couple's buying trips took them as far as the Los Angeles garmentdistrict.

They took their earnings and rented shop space for O.G. about five monthsago.

The shop is open Monday through Saturday, and either Carrie or Lonnieis behind the counter. Usually, one or both of their children -- Tyler,6, and Estevon, 15 months -- is nearby.

Jacobs says they still buy from the California wholesalers, either bytelephone or in person.

We try to go once a month to see what's new and to look at whatpeople are wearing -- see what they're wearing and how they're wearing it.

They also buy sight unseen, ordering large lots of merchandise by telephone.

I sell whatever comes to me, he says. We don't evenknow half the time what we're getting.

Back-to-school shopping gave the fledgling shop a big boost. In one month,Jacobs says, the shop did $7,000 in sales.

Jacobs says he has put all the earnings back into the business, buyingmore merchandise and expanding. He knocked out a wall for more sales space,creating a young children's department and dressing room.

O.G. now is weathering doldrums, but Jacobs is optimistic.

People say, `Don't worry, Christmas is coming.'

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Clothing store owner denies business name is gang-related