The Oklahoman

Dollar stores face local pushback

But discount retailers continue to expand

- Amritpal Kaur Sandhu-Longoria

More communitie­s are turning away from the prospect of a dollar store opening up in their town.

In a report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, researcher­s said more than 70 cities and towns have already blocked new projects from chain dollar stores and 50 cities have enacted laws to limit the discount retailers’ plans for expansion.

The three main retailers – Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar – are some of the only retailers left in small towns and in rural areas, according to the report.

“In cities, it is common to find dollar stores clustered by the dozen within certain neighborho­ods. In rural towns, they typically locate near the only grocery store, and often succeed in wiping it out,” the report said. “One might assume that the dollar chains are simply filling a need, providing basic retail options in cash-strapped communitie­s. But the evidence shows something else. These stores aren’t merely a byproduct of economic distress, they are a cause of it.”

Researcher­s said these tactics leave people without access to fresh food, further imposing hardship on residents who have to travel farther to buy food. But each store’s representa­tives disagree with the report.

“Dollar Tree and Family Dollar complement grocery stores and bring economic developmen­t to every community we enter, including helping to alleviate the effects of ‘food deserts’ in urban communitie­s by helping serve those who would otherwise be limited in their access to the basic food items we provide,” said Kristin Tetreault, chief communicat­ions officer at Dollar Tree.

Dollar General spokespers­on Crystal Luce said the chain’s stores are often sought to fill the gap in a time when the grocery industry is shifting. And while Dollar General is a general merchandis­e store, and not a grocery store, it has 3,000 stores that offer fresh produce.

Communitie­s curb dollar stores

● In New Orleans, the city council asked city planners to limit dollar stores in the city, and to prevent them from clustering in one area and dominating business.

● In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the city council approved a zoning measure to ensure dollar stores are built at least a mile apart.

● In DeKalb County, Georgia, officials started the process in December 2019 to ban the expansion of dollar stores in the area.

While each of the dollar stores has faced community pushback, the companies have not indicated any signs of slowing down. Between 2019 and 2021, Dollar General opened 3,025 new stores, relocated 310 stores and remodeled 4,446 stores, Luce said.

Dollar Tree, owner of Family Dollar, opened 464 new stores, relocated 120 stores and closed 205 stores in 2022.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States