GTM started out in 1980 as two guys going to the San Diego swap meet and having garage sales. During these humble beginnings, GTM was called “GTM Salvage,” and the motto on our business card was “Don’t chuck it, we’ll truck it.” Yes, it was called GTM from the beginning, and it means “Get The Money.” We bought the contents of people’s garages and closed them out at the end of their garage sales. We even bought and refinished antique furniture for a short while. That made our time worth about $3 an hour.
At one point a lady called and wanted a workshop cleaned out. She had two conditions. One, we had to come right then and two, we had to take everything. After we loaded everything up she said, “You’re not done yet.” We eyed the empty room, wondering what she meant. She then added, “You dismantle the racks and remove them, and take the switch plates off the wall.” This had been her deceased husband’s shop, and she wanted no reminders left behind. The weekend sales at the swap meet were good following that pickup.
Each week we wondered where we would find the next items to sell. One of the founders brought back cowboy hats and mesquite wood as part of his luggage from Texas to keep things going. One lead and referral after another kept us going, and good service was part of the equation from the start. Finally, Price Club called and asked us to start buying their closeouts and salvage in December of 1980. The obvious next step was to open a store and one was opened on March 1, 1981 at 8th and Market Downtown, San Diego. This location was under the Arthur Hotel that was built in 1888.
It was challenging at first to find customers to buy all the items we were procuring and to present them in a manner that appealed to the average shopper. There was a lot of trial and error. Jerry Crouch would stand on the sidewalk in front of the store and invite people in with the promise of the best prices in town. He would travel from restaurant to restaurant selling rice, flour, and sugar, and one of our first accounts was San Diego’s oldest Chinese restaurant, the Nanking at 4th and Island.
Over many years and due to the contributions of many great employees, the business evolved into a first-class retail operation. In 1983 a second location was opened in Santee in the “Old Tony’s Produce Building,” and we operated out of that 4000 square ft location for several years. In 1986, the Downtown location was moved to 16th and G St and was eventually closed in May of 2005. In 1988, GTM’s first Lemon Grove Store was opened on Broadway in the old San Diego Glass and Paint building. In 1989, the Santee location was moved from Mission Gorge Road to Carlton Hills Boulevard, and we eventually ended up occupying the space of three businesses and over 25,000 square feet at that location. The Lemon Grove location was moved to its current location in November of 1992, where we now occupy over 25,000 square feet.
GTM carries over 20,000 items and constantly seeks new values for its customers. We have over 200 suppliers and no longer worry about running out of product or opportunities. We have over 250 employees that continue to contribute positive ideas and innovations that continue to improve GTM’s operation and ensure its future success. We have been voted San Diego’s Number One Discount Operation on several occasions. Our employees adhere to our Core Values and strive to achieve GTM’s Mission and Vision by bringing tremendous values to San Diego County consumers.