This is a little outside of my normal blog topic scope, but today I am going to talk about Dollar General, specifically Dollar Generals opening in poor rural neighborhoods.
There are lots of articles about this. I mean lots. Dollar General actually has a practice of opening (to quote one blog post, “where Wal-Mart won’t go,” which makes the pundits talk about “shutting down Mom & Pop stores.”
Which – might be true in some places. I don’t live in an urban area right now, although I know that most of the grocery stores left downtown Rochester when I was a teenager. Your options are the corner bodega, the one sort of sketchy Shur-Save, or take a bus (or drive, if you can afford a car) out to a Wal-Mart or a grocery store on the edges of the town.
Where I live – Where I live, there’s not even the old half-carcass of a former grocery store. If you want groceries, you drive/take the bus into town. Or you buy them overpriced and stale at the gas station – which is what a lot of people I ride the bus with did.
Okay, I’m getting a little pointed.
What I’m going to say is: when the Dollar General opened “in my neighborhood,” (i.e., 3.5 miles away from my house but on my way to/from the park-and-ride), they weren’t taking business away from anyone nearby.
(and it it was the two nearest places to buy food, those are both large chains.)
I was skeptical at first. Woo, a dollar store. They tore down an old, decrepit house, put in a store right next to the gas station – what’s the difference going to be?
Milk that doesn’t go bad on the way home (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point).
Candy that tastes notably better than most drugstore candy (for real!)
Cat food I have no problem feeding to my cats.
* And brand names. Same brownie mix, same cat food, same cereal, I’d buy at Wegmans.
(To be honest, I have barely touched the other 2/3 of the store. I buy toiletries at a big box store and we’re set on plates and pans, and I don’t have a kid.)
They have a stocking policy that means sometimes they won’t have what I want — but that means that their turnover is sufficient to keep everything that’s on the shelves fresh, which is sometimes a hassle, but for a small store with not overpriced staples that are reliably fresh, that’s a trade I’m willing to make.
In re. the community at large: It’s 200 feet from the only bus route in the area. It’s on the major thoroughfare. It’s within an easy walking distance of the trailer park and a large number of cheap rental homes, and that bus ride from twice as many AND another trailer park. I’m never the only car in the parking lot and there’s usually more people in the store than there are cars in the parking lot.
None of this is what I expected, to be honest. I expected cheap junk at prices that looked cheaper than they were – and to be fair, there’s some of that. There’s fresh dairy but no fresh vegetables or meat; you’d have to go into town for those or live on eggs and tuna and Spam and canned veg.
(every time I think of canned veg, I think of canned green beans, possibly one of my least favorite foods in the world.)
OH! I lie, there’s also frozen food.
So long story short, I really love having a Dollar General on the way home. The cats are less sure – they might sell our *brand* of cat food but not the specific type that Miss Fussy Pants thinks is food – but it’s great when I need, say, milk, eggs, and coffee and don’t want to hit the store and deal with crowds.
And since it’s filling a hole rather than competing with an existing business, I’m going to guess it’s good for the neighborhood, too.
Also. The BEST reeses peanut butter pumpkins. Absolutely the best. Could not be fresher unless you stood at the end of the assembly line.
‘Scuse me, I might need to go find the reeses assembly line.