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Dollar Stores: Local Business Killer or Convenient Staple?
Well-known chain retailers like Dollar General and Dollar Tree, which also bought out Family Dollar four years ago, have continued to expand rapidly in recent years, operating a total of over 30,000 stores across the nation.
These stores have become well-known for opening stores in rural and low-income areas.
David Perdue, Dollar General’s former CEO in the mid-2000s, told The Wall Street Journal that the business’s strategy was to go where Walmart wasn’t going, from suburban areas to rural ones.
This strategy has led to major growth in recent years, with the chain opening 900 or more stores in 2018 and 2019.
While the chains argue they benefit local communities by offering convenience and low prices, opponents say they discourage supermarkets from opening and threaten existing small businesses.
ExploreClarion.com reached out to some local small businesses to determine if they have been affected.
Amanda Rhoades, who took over ownership of the Shippenville Red & White Store in November after the previous owner retired, said the opening of the Dollar General Store in the Shippenville area didn’t have much of an effect on their business.
“I don’t think it’s had any real impact here,” Rhoades said. “I mean, the bulk of our sales are in meat, anyway, so I guess we’re not really competing with them in the grocery part.”
Another local business owner, who preferred to remain nameless, said one of the recently opened Dollar General Stores did hurt her business.
“They do hurt all of the little grocery stores. We just can’t compete with them. They’re buying bulk while we’re just buying singles or maybe cases.”
The business owner noted that in her case, it has hurt the business enough that she may have to consider closing.
“It’s just that bad. The thing that irritates me the most is the fact they put these stores right beside stores that already exist a lot of times.”
Peter Ackerman, whose wife owns PJ’s Country Market in Fryburg, said he believes driving small businesses out is part of the chain’s goals.
“The Dollar Store business model is to put every Ma and Pa store out of business, then go after Walmart, and create a monopoly. That is their business model,” Ackerman said.
He noted that while the new store in Fryburg did take a bite out of business at PJ’s Country Market, the market’s ability to offer things that the Dollar Store doesn’t offer has made a difference.
“They cannot do fresh meats like we do, fresh baked goods like we do, or fresh sandwiches. The only thing they can do is some groceries,” he stated.
“Yes, it did have a negative effect on us, but it didn’t kill us.”
In the local community, opinions on the Dollar General chain and similar stores seem to be split and varied.
“I love the convenience of Dollar General. I still regularly shop at supermarkets/small businesses too. Dollar General is more of an ‘oh I forgot something let me run there and grab it’ destination for me,” Jenna Sayers McIntyre said.
Keegan Shaffer stated that “they certainly have a genius business model. Most local small businesses pride themselves on a quality of product and service you won’t find elsewhere. Do I think a local DG is hurting small businesses locally? No. Who they are hurting is big box stores like Walmart.”
Linda Whitling likes the convenience of the Dollar General store.
“I appreciate that a Dollar General store that is so close to us. The convenience for cards, household items, and last-minute items is a blessing to me,” Whitling said.
While there is strong support for the retail giants, some people do have issues with them.
“They target low-income areas and set up next to and compete directly with small privately owned stores. Look at their locations in the tri-county area. They offer low paying jobs and put nothing back into the community. When you support locally owned business, you are supporting your friends and neighbors,” David Yeany said.
Robert Anderson echoed Yeany’s sentiments.
“I totally agree, why do you think they put a Dollar General near Izzy Trailer Court, one next to Palmer’s Country Store, one next to the old Comet, one next to County Fair? The list goes on and one, they did that on purpose to take their businesses away. To try and get the business to shut down,” Anderson added.
Those who stand opposed to these retailers’ business models have started fighting back in some parts of the nation.
City councils in Birmingham, Alabama; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Mesquite, Texas, have all passed legislation limiting the opening of new stores.
ExploreClarion.com reached out to the Dollar General Corporation; however, representatives of the company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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