How Dollar General Became Rural America's Store of Choice
December 4, 2017 2:55 PM   Subscribe

The more the rural U.S. struggles, company officials said, the more places Dollar General has found to prosper. “The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,” Chief Executive Todd Vasos said in an interview. [Alternate link]

(Most news stories about Dollar General are about either a new store opening or a robbery.

Bloomberg, in October: Dollar General Hits a Gold Mine in Rural America.

Huffpost, in 2013: Join The Booming Dollar Store Economy! Low Pay, Long Hours, May Work While Injured
posted by box (90 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is there a way to read the full article without signing in/subscribing? I've tried opening in a private window, Firefox focus, and searching and clicking from Google news.
posted by congen at 3:09 PM on December 4


[Update: The WSJ article is paywalled, but I added an alternate link to the post.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:09 PM on December 4 [5 favorites]


I ain't crying, I'm just singing a little low.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:11 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if this article is framed in a deliberate "let's feel smug about our middle/upper class tastes" schadenfreude-y way, but it sure seems to include a lot of cultural markers which code as low class. "Our buyers can't plan their ketchup purchases in advance" "they love anything with camo on it" "heavily scented detergent sells better." Maybe that's just the honest reality of their demographic, but it feels a little icky to have the CEO spell it out in such unvarnished terms... "these losers are making me RICH!"[not an actual quote]
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:27 PM on December 4 [12 favorites]


Jeez! And here I thought Walmart was as low as things could go.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 3:27 PM on December 4


I came up in a lower middle class (that occasionally dipped into lower class) affluence family. I’ve been “comfortable” for decades, now, but occasionally, especially when visiting relatives, I’m reminded of that background. It’s not something I’m fully at ease with, really.

I still frequent GoodWill happily (great deals on dishes, there!), and cook beans and rice from scratch (because nothing can beat it for inexpensive nutrition, plus, I grew up on them). So I’m not completely dissociated from my leaner upbringing.

But, for some reason, there is a kind of anguish I feel whenever I go to (or past) a Dollar General store.

It makes me feel the same way as when I drive by the title loan businesses, payday lending storefronts, pawn shops, and crumbling strip-mall churches. It’s a feeling like financial insecurity - and the slow burn of desperation that accompanies it - is standing right behind me, waiting for me to let my guard slip. It’s accompanied, too, by an upswelling feeling of sadness for everyone still trapped in that.

I hate that feeling, and so I hate Dollar General, because even though it fills a niche, I don’t like the way I feel around it, and the way I imagine it may make others feel.
posted by darkstar at 3:29 PM on December 4 [102 favorites]


Anyone who thinks Wal-mart is “as low as things could go” has never driven through Appalachia. It is an area of the country where people plan out and look forward to their trips to Wal-Mart, and drive upwards of 90 minutes each way. My wife met some cousins of a friend in rural Kentucky who referred to the Wal-Mart and adjacent Home Depot as “the mall.”

Welcome to the United States of America.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:29 PM on December 4 [48 favorites]


Anyone who thinks Wal-mart is “as low as things could go” has never driven through Appalachia.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:29 PM on December 4


I plead guilty as charged.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 3:34 PM on December 4 [4 favorites]


How Dollar General Became Rural America's Store of Choice
The more the rural U.S. struggles, company officials said, the more places Dollar General has found to prosper. "The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer"
For decades, Dollar General prices have been marked in 5-cent increments, making it easier for shoppers to estimate the total price of their purchases. "They don't want to be embarrassed when they get up to the register,"
Many popular brands are packaged in small quantities to keep prices under $10 ... Lower-priced items are often a financial necessity for shoppers.
Then Jim Thorpe, Dollar General’s chief merchandising officer at the time, defined the core customer for the investors: “Our Best Friends Forever”—an extremely cash-strapped demographic, with a household income less than $35,000, and reliant on government assistance, that shops at Dollar General to “stretch budgets.”


That sure sounds like a store of choice to me, and not in any way a store of desperation.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:36 PM on December 4 [10 favorites]


Yeah, it’s genuinely hard to decide if Dollar General is predatory or helpful in what they offer. Maybe a combination of both.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:38 PM on December 4 [15 favorites]


My nearest Wendy's closed and became a Romney HQ, and then was razed to make way for a Dollar Tree. I think there's some kind of metaphor there.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:42 PM on December 4 [8 favorites]


In case you don't have the sads about Dollar General - How about the UN looking at poverty in America?

Not sad enough? Ok about about not having jobs at the low end of the payscale?

On the way to Amazon just having robots pick your prime-shipped product you have this for your sadness fodder.

Dollar General looks like pikers here.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:46 PM on December 4 [10 favorites]


The Dollar General in our little town has thrived for quite a while. Whoever is stocking them is a genius.

Do you need a last minute gift for a 4 year old? You can get it, wrapping paper, ribbon, and the card. Are you going to clean out your closet? Plastic bins, cedar hangers, brooms, and a hamper are right there. Are you a teenage girl who wants to experiment with makeup? Do you need something that can be a quick lunch? Do you need streamers? Candy for your bowl? Cat treats? Padded envelopes? A whisk broom? An inflatable cartoon character blowup for your yard? A 12 pack of soda? Trash bags? Armor-all? Puzzle magazines? Christian Novels? Shelf-liner? A toilet brush? Deoderant? Moisturizer? Seasonal goods?

They are in a sweet spot between pharmacies, grocery stores, and superstores. If your town doesn't have 1, 2, or all 3 of those things, it is super convenient, especially since they're designed to be/seem cheaper than the grocery store next door or the items you can find in a pharmacy (and your small town pharmacy isn't a CVS, it's an eighth that size). They are often the only place in town to get a whole bunch of stuff.

I shop at our local one. I buy soap and shampoo there, cat treats and organizing plastic containers, hair clips, and emergency wrapping paper, candy for trick-or-treaters, and etc.
posted by julen at 3:52 PM on December 4 [47 favorites]


i assume everything in these stores secretly carries amounts well over the regulatory limit of at least one toxic chemical
posted by entropicamericana at 3:56 PM on December 4 [16 favorites]


Dollar General and its competitors are everywhere, and I have no problem popping in there for the occasional last minute birthday card that i'd rather not pay 5 dollars for at the QFC, or a dollar's worth of aluminum foil , or cotton swabs or bleach (there's one walking distance from my office) , but i wonder how those rural republican votin' middle americans feel about where most of that stuff is made.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:00 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


And who says the five & dime is dead? Straight from the Depression era...
posted by jim in austin at 4:02 PM on December 4 [9 favorites]


They just (a year ago) opened one in my old home town in appalachia, and it was "a big deal" for the residents, and was actually seen as a sign of growth, as the local family-owned (and honestly run-down and overpriced) grocery store closed up a few years ago. The only other shopping options are two convenience store/gas stations, or driving 20 minutes to, well, anything. If you need a can of wd-40 and some butter, it's a great place. Sure, most of the non-food stuff in there is the lowest quality chinese-made garbage that can be found, but it's better than nothing, and it's cheap.
I don't think anybody actually does "the shopping" there, though. It's just a more convenient place for the kind of stuff you need right now.
posted by Mr. Big Business at 4:03 PM on December 4 [5 favorites]


Dollar General’s typical shopper “doesn’t look at her pantry or her refrigerator and say, ‘You know, I’m going to be out of ketchup in the next few days. I’m going to order a few bottles,’” said Mr. Vasos, the company’s chief executive. “The core customer uses the last bit of ketchup at the table the night prior, and either on her way to work or on her way home picks up one bottle.”

Okay, are there a vast number of people who do the former? Because I'm the latter and I would have guessed most people are, yet I'm also not Dollar General's 'typical customer'. I've never actually been in one.

Now I did just have mustard delivered from Amazon today, but it was Bertman Ball Park Mustard and online is the only way I can get it.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:08 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


i wonder how those rural republican votin' middle americans feel about where most of that stuff is made.

Doesn't bother most of us in the least.
posted by themanwho at 4:10 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


I don't think anybody actually does "the shopping" there, though. It's just a more convenient place for the kind of stuff you need right now.

Yes, the last time this story ran, back in 2011, dollar store chain executives were explicit about seeking the dollars you forgot to spend in Wal-Mart: "Walmart always worries me," says Levine, the Family Dollar CEO. "You can't out-Walmart Walmart. The dollar stores are not going after the same trip Walmart is going after. We're going after the fill-in trip. We live off the crumbs they leave us."

That story ends with the quote "[T]here are like 4,000 of these stores around here. Someone's shopping at them. And it's not all poor people." Which haunts me to this day.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:15 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


> Jeez! And here I thought Walmart was as low as things could go.

Walmart's retail workers couldn't afford to shop at Walmart. Which meant Walmart was practically giving Dollar General money. Which was probably one of the reasons behind Walmart's nationwide wage hike in 2016.
posted by at by at 4:18 PM on December 4 [21 favorites]


Okay, are there a vast number of people who do the former?

I dunno about vast numbers but...it can't actually be unusual to buy a new bottle of ketchup before the old one runs out, can it?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:20 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


I'm not poor any more, and when I was, there weren't any places like Dol Gen. I am still a cheap bastid, and have to tell myself I can afford to buy quality goods now. I will periodically go to a Dollar Tree or other real dollar store, and happily buy things there that are good enough quality. Dollar General rubs me the wrong way, though. The quality of their stuff is really low, like at a dollar store or worse, but they charge more than a dollar for most of it. If they are thriving in places like Appalachia, that says to me there's opportunity there for real dollar stores.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:21 PM on December 4 [8 favorites]


I pop into the local dollar store from time. While my local hardware charges $3.00 for a small plastic box of screws, I can go to the dollar store and buy perfectly good scrapers, tape measures, razor cutters and other miscellaneous stuff for 10% of what a hardware big box would charge.
posted by diode at 4:26 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


That story ends with the quote "[T]here are like 4,000 of these stores around here. Someone's shopping at them. And it's not all poor people." Which haunts me to this day.

Well, I live in rural America. And the Dollar Generals are popping up like fungus.

Our closest is located about half a mile from our real family owned general store that has been in business for 70+ years - where you can get hardware, groceries, clothes, gas, and a weird assortment of other stuff. Everyone behind the counter (and probably in the store) knows you by name.

But hey, I still shop at Dollar General, and I'm not poor. It does fill a gap. When I need last minute wrapping paper, or Ensure for my granny, or cheese for dinner on Sunday (because family owned stores in this part of the world do not work on Sundays), or a bag of zipties, or whatever.

It beats driving 30+ minutes to get fill-in stuff.
posted by slipthought at 4:28 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


I would never say most DG's are pedestrian friendly, but WalMart has increasingly gone for the big box suburb supercenter locations where it's practically impossible to walk up to without crossing a huge busy road. In contrast, DG's seem to set up in smaller strip malls that are not exactly a quick, easy, or safe walk, but moreso than Walmart for sure. I've lived in at least three neighborhoods now where the DG was not an easy walk, but a doable one. Walmart never was.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:45 PM on December 4 [11 favorites]


I’m in a small metro, but pass through a number of rural areas with brand new dollar generals on the way to my parents’ town. They go where there previously were no stores, and fill that real need. Although I recognize the problems with the economy that their proliferation indicates, I don’t get all sad shopping at one. I prefer it so much over a big store because how easy it is to get in and out, and everything is right there together. Sometimes I want the smaller food packages because it’s for camping, or my office, etc.
posted by bizzyb at 4:47 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


Agents of KAOS - buying a new bottle of ketchup before the old one runs out, sure. But *ordering a few*, as in having some service or other bring you *several* bottles? I mean, yeah, I get my groceries delivered because I don't drive, but who needs more than one bottle of ketchup at a time?
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 4:49 PM on December 4 [6 favorites]


We don't have a Dollar General but we do have a Family Dollar and a Dollar Tree near us and they are the most depressing places.
posted by octothorpe at 4:49 PM on December 4


This year, Dollar General became the exclusive seller of dog food from the camouflage-gear brand Mossy Oak.

This is an interesting sentence that raises more questions than it answers.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:51 PM on December 4 [25 favorites]


Mossy Oak is in the middle of a transition from camouflage designer to lifestyle brand (see also Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, in similar markets).
posted by box at 5:07 PM on December 4 [5 favorites]


This is an interesting sentence that raises more questions than it answers.

Such as?
I see that as smart marketing by the Mossy Oak people. Dollar General shoppers are pretty likely to be hunters, as well (at least in my neck of the woods, anyway.)
posted by Thorzdad at 5:08 PM on December 4


We have Family Dollar and Dollar Tree too but no Dollar General. Are Dollar Generals different somehow?

I really like the Dollar Tree. If you look over the items carefully, you can get a lot of useful things that would be 3x the price at Target (or more.) Dollar Trees can really vary on their size and general cleanliness, but I have many to choose from (17 locations within 10 miles of my house.) Great for wrapping paper, some beauty products, kitchen garbage bags, srandom things like big boxes of baking soda to throw on the stupid dog's pee on the rug.

You can watch all kinds of Youtube videos of people telling you which items are worth buying at the Dollar Tree.

I also like the huge independent store near my house called 99 Cents Silk Flowers. They have a giant decorating department with fabric, all kinds of glass containers, feathers, giant packs of those little tulle gift bags, silly confetti for various theme parties. It's really fun to browse. They have good kitchen towels and little rugs.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:15 PM on December 4 [9 favorites]


Looks like it's repackaged Evolve. I'm not sure what tier that's comparable to. At least they have an option not to feed their dog friends Beneful I guess.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:16 PM on December 4


Such as?

- is the dog food camo print
- are the dog food bags camo print
- does the dog food help the dog conceal itself better in the wilderness
- is there an urban camo brand for town dogs vs country dogs
- why is a ghillie suit manufacturer selling dog food

i noticed the other day that rachel ray also sells a line of her own branded dog food, which i found equally baffling.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:22 PM on December 4 [21 favorites]


Is Dollar General just a rural Target? Sounds like it to me.
posted by SPrintF at 5:25 PM on December 4


Dollar Tree occasionally has interesting goods. I found hot sauce from Malaysia and cookies from Turkey before. I'm not sure if it's because I'm in a coastal big city Dollar Tree or if they're all like that.
posted by FJT at 5:45 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


Dollar General is more a corporate chain-ized corner store than a rural Target, carries a limited selection of a shit-ton of stuff, at a higher per-unit cost than a Target, but with much smaller (and therefore cheaper) sizes available. Their "basketball court sized" stores is very old-time corner store.

(Dollar Tree sells everything for a dollar or less, and aims more at "fun" shopping and browsing; Dollar General is "under $10" and is replacing vanishing groceries and 7/11s and corner stores and so on.)

I am always torn because they do provide a useful service, especially in small towns where all the retail has left except for a gas station. But in poorer neighborhoods in towns or small cities with more retail options, they make me a little more queasy since they're there to sell small quantities (at a high per-unit cost) to people who can't afford to go to Aldi and buy a regular-size whatever, thus contributing to the poverty treadmill (Sam Vimes boot theory etc) where the poor have to spend more to buy small quantities because they can't afford the savings of buying a larger amount. (And I don't even mean a Costco amount, just an Aldi amount.) But they're in a lot more neighborhoods, because they're so small, than full-service grocery stores which need a big footprint and a big parking lot; Dollar General is legit taking over old 1930s shopfronts (or, the frontage and then putting up their own building) with four parking spaces that are in run-down, blighted urban neighborhoods and putting up four walkable stores in the area served by one big Kroger you have to take the bus to.

They also have a pretty good school supply selection, for dirt cheap, which was really important for our high-poverty schools. A grandma caring for grandchildren on a fixed income without a car could walk to the Dollar General and pick up school supplies for her grandkids for a few dollars, enough paper and pencils and crayons to enrich the home environment and give them a good set of homework supplies, and it's important for kids to have those supplies available at home and not to worry that by coloring pictures they're using up expensive crayons and making grandma skip meals.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:52 PM on December 4 [41 favorites]


but i wonder how those rural republican votin' middle americans feel about where most of that stuff is made.

They don't have the chain Dollar General in Spain (and really, why would they), but they do have a catch-all, random shit, super cheap type of store, and they straight up call them chinos. Once I asked my work colleague if they were called chinos because they sold plastic crap from China, or whether it was because (in my experience) the proprietors were all Chinese, and she had to admit she didn't know.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:09 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


I'm in Appalachia and a Dollar General was right down the road when I moved out of Asheville. Multiple trips. They had everything I needed to set things up in the new place and some really good deals on edible food.

Place hadn't been inhabited for 25 years and we need light bulbs, lots of light bulbs. 3 months later we come home in the dark and each light we turn on pops. Glass separated from the aluminum base. Breaks on the floor or rattles inside the fixture.

9 walks up to a light switch we haven't tried yet and looks at me. Try it What the hell. All those little bulbs on the chandelier pop. Get the dogs outside and sweep.

I go to my computer and out of habit hit the switch and boom boom, two more separated bulbs. The surge protector shows no event. It's the product. This is the only time we've used candles when there was electricity.

So I go to Dollar Store in the morning with a paper bag full of broken glass and aluminum fittings. I'm expecting a difficult conversation. They are hiring. Seems like just one person there and I ask her how she likes working there and she says the money was terrible at first but she got bumped up a dollar an hour every two weeks without asking and now she's managing the store. This is 2012 and nobody has stories like that.

I open the bag and she knows about this and tells me to take whatever I need but she needs to scan them out of inventory. She says the new bulbs will not be like that and they were not.

So I am rather happy about my dollar store.

Pro-tip: you put the rubber-handled pliers on the inside of the aluminum and expand them and twist.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:12 PM on December 4 [25 favorites]


Dollar General? Not entirely new...we shopped at G.C. Murphy
posted by robbyrobs at 6:13 PM on December 4


- why is a ghillie suit manufacturer selling dog food

So that your food can sneak up on your dog
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:26 PM on December 4 [17 favorites]


And here I thought Walmart was as low as things could go.

A few years ago there were some articles (maybe posted here, I'm not sure) about how Walmart was seeing profits dip as the economy went downhill and people were switching to shopping at cheaper stores. From this article, apparently the smaller stores they tried opening to compete didn't pan out.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:26 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


Well, my city recently landed a Dollar General distribution center, which is rather impressive, and whose planned 500 jobs will kinda help make up for the loss of our GM plant that his grace Paul Ryan tried to finesse back in '12. This isn't a community that's been flattened the way Charlie LeDuff predicted for MoJo -- but the transition did inspire an award-winning book by Amy Goldstein. Anyway, not to belabor the civics lesson, we are a place that has its share of dollar stores, title loan hucksters, and so forth.

Funny thing was DG was not the store of choice here -- we only have one and it's on the dingy end of town in a vaguely awkward location. We have FDs, DTs, and even a new Five Below ("everything under $5") coming in. I use them occasionally but I'm no expert. I do think they generally provide a service, and it's not just the convenience of the "fill in" visit. Certainly the five and dime had its heyday. They do cater to the precariat, but not in a way that's thoroughly predatory like the title/payday loan places. They don't *only* offer small sizes either, though you won't find the bulk bags of TP like at Walmart. We actually did just see the closure of a full-size grocery, and I think that's as much to do with the regionally-targeted groceries out by the Interstate as anything. But I also believe the rise of convenience mini-grocery stores like DG, Walgreens/CVS, and gas station convenience (which are almost always way more expensive) has had an impact on the grocery business overall. There's just something about the way you have to pick up milk and end up dropping a few bucks on a few other things that is going to impact the full-size stores in the long run. For most consumers I'm not sure the ketchup-bottle scenario really holds, as there are a lot of mini-luxuries and even some costly low-end electronics that also figure into the mix -- it really is more about the array of high-demand products as anything else. The biggest objection I have is the sometimes very random and gappy OTC pharmacy sections.

Consumer Reports is one outlet that basically thinks they offer lower prices (with some caveats), and really, I think you do have to factor in travel time and walking-around time in terms of a Walmart type visit. Those may be inchoate but aren't insignificant costs either.

Ultimately it's interesting to see a segment of brick-and-mortar retail growing in the face of so many malls and especially general-interest department stores (and mall anchors) fizzling out.
Sorry, had a few more links I was going to add but I had to rewrite this from scratch.
posted by dhartung at 6:28 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]


I feel like I'm slumming when I shop in these places, like, I don't actually have to shop here, so maybe I shouldn't.....almost like it's disrespectful.

But it is eye-opening in some ways. I remember once the lines were really long and I guess there was some kind of problem with the register. Everyone was so patient and stoic. There wasn't even any eye-rolling or sighing. And I thought, this is the nature of poverty - people are used to everything being broken and used to having to be inconvenienced beyond what middle-class people will tolerate, just in order to get the things done that they must do, to get through another day. And I then felt bad about using the customers there as some kind of edifying lesson for myself, because that also seems exploitative. At least I have liberal guilt down.
posted by thelonius at 6:32 PM on December 4 [33 favorites]


As a Brit, the picture I'm getting here is like our iconic highstreet and lowstreet "everything £1" chain Poundland, but more so?
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 6:37 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


Dollar General stores have been around since I was a kid, but if a town had one, they only had one. I moved to my current location (in Kentucky) in 1993, and every neighborhood had a mom-and-pop grocery. They were smelly, the food was expensive, and they closed early when they felt like it, but they would deliver and even sell on credit when you needed. Four supermarkets later, the mom-and-pop stores all closed. Of course, there is no public transportation here, so if you don't have a reliable car, you're out of luck. Ten years later, Dollar Generals started popping up everywhere in the county, and folks were excited they could buy stuff somewhere besides the gas station without having to make a trip to town. They are a bargain for the stuff where quality doesn't matter (wrapping paper) but their clothing is crap and their off-brand cleaners are half water.
posted by Miss Cellania at 7:08 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


Yeah, any where I've ever been to Dollar General, there's a weird poverty vibe whether it's in Boise, Albuquerque, Portland, or my local berg, population 15,000. They occasionally sell items like cheap furniture, clothes, yard equipment, and it's all poorly made from lousy quality materials. I seldom go into them . There's a place in Boise called Big Lots that's geared low income, and the vibe is completely different. A lot of the food has French or Spanish labels, but it's tasty stuff. The quality of the hard goods is much better than Dollar General.

The true $1.00 or ninety-nine cent stores? I love 'em. Only a Dollar, Dollar Tree, Greenbacks $1.00, and the late and sorely lamented Honks have good stuff. (Honks were bought out--I haz a sad.) Like Eyebrows McGee and Squeak Attack said, they have useful stuff for lots less than any box store.

I hit the dollar stores at least once a month. They're great for paint brushes and rollers--only a buck--I hate cleaning brushes, and you don't always need an expensive high quality brush anyway--just toss 'em! Bic lighters--4 for a buck. They have great soaps--Pears, Neutrogena, Yardley--usually $3+ elsewhere. I bought a big 20oz jar of brand name Desitin cream to treat the scratches on a horse's legs. That large jar normally sells for $16. (again, should have bought a 4-5 jars) Brand name D, AA, AAA, batteries last just as long as the same brand from Home Depot.

I got cool little black fans for the camper 10 years ago--they run like blazes on D batteries and are fantastic. Wish I had bought a case, because I was at a camp ground last year, and I was offered $5 bucks for one of mine. I bought ten dollars worth of very nicely made, small molded plastic toy horses, 10 to a pack, for my grandkids. I then saw the same brand in a toy store for $3.99. Picture frames are a real bargain. There's one-off nice stuff that's a super deal that you have to grab, because you probably won't ever see it again.

There are some things you can get cheaper at Winco or Walmart--rubbing alcohol (unless they occasionally have the bigger bottles), ammonia, bleach, or brand name candy bars. You just have to be familiar with what you're buying when it comes to cleaning products and other common items. Also, I know a large bottle of Dawn dish soap is cheaper, but I hardly ever use it except as a stain remover, so the $1 bottle lasts forever.

Around here, you see some pretty well-heeled folks in the dollar stores for party items--like the lady driving a Hummer that bought at least $30 of helium birthday balloons. She probably would have paid a small fortune for the same things at a fancy party shop. I saw one gal absolutely clean out the wedding stuff. Christmas bags and wrap goes like hotcakes.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:14 PM on December 4 [8 favorites]


I am so confused by this chart from the Bloomberg article. I have been staring at it for five minutes and still don't really get it. I get that the gist is probably supposed to be "rich educated people shop at Whole Foods, poor less educated people shop at dollar stores" but the scales are baffling and the colors you have to keep checking back to the legend (which is confusing in and of itself, because it looks like part of the chart but isn't). Am I dumb/tired? Or is it as bad as it seems to be?

Anyway. I remember this story about the "Dollar Store Grandpa Bandit" who went across the country only robbing Dollar Trees and Dollar Generals.
posted by retrograde at 7:20 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


picture I'm getting here is like our iconic highstreet and lowstreet "everything £1" chain Poundland

Poundland is like the true "dollar stores" where everything's $1. These are fun, if you like weird crap manufactured in China, but not really a substitute for weekly shopping. Dollar General is using the word "dollar" to suggest those rock-bottom prices, but they're really just a grocery/pharmacy/useful-items store, on the usual American model -- just with lower-quality stuff, often in smaller packages, and prices can be well over $1.

Unlike "Everything's $1" stores, Dollar Generals are no fun. There's a "poverty vibe" as BlueHorse said -- this is where your mom buys the stuff that makes your more well-off school-friends tell their parents: "At Harvey's house they don't have the regular _____" and their parents reply "Sshh, it's not nice to make him feel embarrassed." On the other hand, Dollar Generals don't feel exploitative, just cheap: at a payday loan place they're trying to trap you, but the DG employees make no bones about the low quality.

I guess I have more feelings about these places than I would have thought.

Interesting factoid: during the Great Recession, stores like DG were some of the few whose stock price went up. (But not DG itself, which wasn't publicly traded then.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:30 PM on December 4 [7 favorites]


I hate that feeling, and so I hate Dollar General, because even though it fills a niche, I don’t like the way I feel around it, and the way I imagine it may make others feel.

I hear you darkstar. Same background, same feels. It's like... in screwy, touchy-feely language meets engineering terms Dollar General would be a device that promoted laminar flow instead of turbulent flow in a pipe BUT the fluid in question is actually representative of the meta-condition of people's well-being in the geographical area surrounding the store itself as it travels from Place A to a worse-off Place B.

It's not something folks can point a finger at as inherently bad because it actually helps folks in that time and place but it's actually their doom staring at them in the face as they flit about working multiple part time jobs and never seeming to make ends meet at the end of the week or month. But they can still go in and get a four pack of toilet paper, it's just past the pool noodles and 2 liters of off brand soda.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:59 PM on December 4 [6 favorites]


Gonna copy my comment from the megathread over. I have absolutely comparison shopped their prices and it's a giant ripoff. I used to buy the occasional thing there, but I've noticed the quality of even things like a pair of nail clippers or whatever has gone way down in the last few years. I recently got to shop at a Daiso (Japanese Dollar Store) in Dallas and it was AMAZING, especially in comparison.

"I live in a very poor small town. We have two Dollar Generals and one very limited and overpriced supermarket. (No Walmart.) I never understand why people shop at the Dollar General because they only have name brand stuff, and I shop 30 miles away at a real grocery store and get all generics and it's way cheaper. But the people who shop there don't have transportation out of this town regularly: they're either too poor for a car or elderly or disabled or in some way not able to go 25-30 miles either direction to get to a decent store or the closest Wal-mart.

So this idea that Dollar General is the cheapest option out of some good will towards the poor is bullshit. They profit off of those with no other options by selling limited items at inflated prices. And just keep building more stores. (In case you don't know, basically nothing at Dollar General is a dollar. It's whatever they want, usually far more than the crappy product would be elsewhere.)"
posted by threeturtles at 8:11 PM on December 4 [9 favorites]


Wait, they have food items in small quantities? I've never been to one but I may go there specifically for that. I never ever use a full bottle of anything before it spoils. If 20 oz of something is $5, and 10 oz is $3, sure it's nominally cheaper to get a 20 oz bottle instead of two 10s, but since I will never use that other 10 oz, I just threw away two dollars.

From this thread, I've learned Dollar Tree is not the same thing, but there's one that shares a parking lot with the local Target, which I always thought was interesting. I guess they serve different enough niches. (There's also a Walmart within spitting distance.)
posted by AFABulous at 9:11 PM on December 4


How does Dollar General compare to the Canadian Saans, Giant Tiger or Fields?
posted by PinkMoose at 9:14 PM on December 4


Dollar Trees are, in a lot of places, the more honest version of Dollar General. They sell a lot of the same stuff, but DG inflates their prices. Both stores tend to have food in small quantities, and I often do a fair bit of my food shopping at them. Pantry things are usually decent quality, especially if you know full well that you're never going to use more than a small container anyhow. Refrigerated/frozen food is more variable, but pretty consistently edible. I've bought dollar packs of off-brand steak-ums and chicken nuggets, and like, they're not amazing or anything, but they're not bad, and it's stuff I wouldn't've been able to afford otherwise, so...

I always feel vaguely guilty when I do my grocery shopping at dollar stores, because--reasons, I guess; for all that I've never been middle class, the stigma of not performing middle class is still strong--but it's cheap, and way less time/energy investment than WalMart or equivalent.
posted by mishafletch at 9:24 PM on December 4 [5 favorites]


I remember once the lines were really long and I guess there was some kind of problem with the register. Everyone was so patient and stoic. There wasn't even any eye-rolling or sighing. And I thought, this is the nature of poverty - people are used to everything being broken and used to having to be inconvenienced beyond what middle-class people will tolerate, just in order to get the things done that they must do, to get through another day. And I then felt bad about using the customers there as some kind of edifying lesson for myself, because that also seems exploitative. At least I have liberal guilt down.

I've definitely caught myself in the same pattern with a discount clothing store I walk by semi-frequently. I don't even go in there, but you can see the register area from the window, and it always looks like a madhouse (even more so in December). It's like there's a signaling system from the start, where just from looking inside, customers are supposed to sort themselves into whether they belong there or at, say, Nordstrom a block away.
posted by zachlipton at 9:57 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: At least I have liberal guilt down.
posted by kandinski at 12:35 AM on December 5 [8 favorites]


For decades, Dollar General prices have been marked in 5-cent increments, making it easier for shoppers to estimate the total price of their purchases.

As someone who used to shop at Dollar General (because I was living on a $100/month food budget my last years in college) and who now lives in Europe, I don't understand why the US doesn't apply the same pricing system that we have here: all prices INCLUDE tax. It's so easy to estimate your purchase total because you just have to add up everything you've got. I remember many times in my low-budget days NOT picking up something I needed because I was afraid that when I got to the register and they added in the 7% or whatever, I wouldn't have enough money to cover the total. The math was too hard to do in my head and this was in the days before cell phone calculators, but the dollar store demographic is probably more likely not to have a cell phone handy anyways.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:24 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


These stores have really multiplied in rural Tennessee. There was one of them in my hometown in 1999, when the factory closed and the unemployment rate was 17%. The town has really recovered since then, and now there is a ring of these stores around it. slipthought is right, they're so conveniently located. Why drive all the way into town to fight the hordes at Wal-Mart when there is a DG 20 minutes closer?

And a small town is like anyplace else, sometimes people shop because it's something to do. I've stopped there just to look for DVDs before. These DGs stay busy all the time.
posted by heatvision at 3:05 AM on December 5



Unlike "Everything's $1" stores, Dollar Generals are no fun.


i visited one about a mile from my home and couldn't help but notice that the toys were all up on the top shelf where no parent could possibly reach them, much less a kid

no fun, indeed
posted by pyramid termite at 3:26 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I live an easy drive from a Dollar Tree, an All For A Dollar, a Five Below, a Big Lots, some Family Dollars, and some Dollar Generals, and have shopped at all of them. My favorite is the All For A Dollar. It has a much bigger variety of goods than the Dollar Tree. It's next door to a Rhode Island Job Lots, which is like Big Lots, only bigger. So I can often buy a lot of stuff cheap with one stop.

Dollar General is the worst of the stores on the list. I never go there. Family Dollar is my second-least-visited store, but there are a couple of things they sell for a fraction of what they go for elsewhere. The two "Lots" stores are probably the places with the highest-quality of goods.

I miss Building 19.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:51 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


As a Brit, the picture I'm getting here is like our iconic highstreet and lowstreet "everything £1" chain Poundland, but more so?

Not quite, Dollar General and Family Dollar are grocery/food stores rather than pound shops/dollar stores. Iceland is probably the nearest equivalent deliberately-aimed-at-poor-people British chain, although I don't think it has as much presence in rural places. You'll find a surprising number of Aldis and Lidls in small towns filling this gap. I don't think the other larger supermarket chains have tried quite the same formula.
posted by grahamparks at 3:55 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if this article is framed in a deliberate "let's feel smug about our middle/upper class tastes" schadenfreude-y way

No, but some of the reactions here certainly are.

I thought Walmart was as low as things could go. ... there is a kind of anguish I feel ... a store of desperation ... carries amounts well over the regulatory limit of at least one toxic chemical ... I feel like I'm slumming when I shop in these places ... a weird poverty vibe

Can you imagine if a one-percenter said these things about your beloved Target or Costco or retailer of your choice?

Yeah, you might only be wishing that they would be able to shop at the places that you do, better decorated stores with workers employed at respectable wages. But the one-percenter could say they only wished everyone could shop at their boutiques and have everything made bespoke with a dedicated concierge for every customer.

I'm by most definitions a "liberal coastal elite," but I also have poor immigrant roots, and my perspective is more along the lines of diode.

If there's anything I learned from the election, it's that this kind of condescending sympathy will only backfire on us. The time I've spent with families in rural America doesn't suggest they'd take kindly to these reactions either. I care about where my things are made, but I loved themanwho's reaction.

Customers of these places aren't so much "woe is me, all I can afford is the Dollar General" -- it's more like DoctorFedora's anecdote about going to "the mall" made up of a Wal-Mart and Home Depot. It's what they know. Most people don't live their lives feeling sorry for themselves.

Do you feel sorry for yourself that you have to shop at Target among what a billionaire might call a "weird wage slave vibe"?

This debate over retail loyalties is a distraction. These stores are both “predatory” and “helpful," as are most stores. I see them kind of in the same place as the overpriced boedga before gentrification hit urban America.

If these stores didn't exist, someone else would find a way to profit by fulfilling these communities' needs, and if they couldn't, these communities' needs would go unfulfilled.

I don't think they'd be any less predatory about it. Entrepreneurs who take a risk on a business want to maximize their returns to offset the risks they take that don't work out.

You can't demand a Nordstrom or Whole Foods open up a store in Evansville, Tennessee. If you can come up with a way of getting better retailers for poor and rural Americans, do it, and you will have plenty of investors.

To be sure, there are retailers that do a better job of servicing the low-end of the market than others, like Aldi -- but a lot of these reactions really rubbed me the wrong way. They seemed more like another example of smug liberal class signaling than true sympathy that might lead to a change.

The problem is structural. Save your energies for fighting the lawmakers who fail to address the poverty in rural America, or combatting the media circus ringleaders who distract us from doing anything about it. Condemning these stores and condescending to the people who shop in them won't accomplish anything.
posted by Borborygmus at 5:51 AM on December 5 [38 favorites]


From this thread, I've learned Dollar Tree is not the same thing,

Dollar Trees are actually pretty interesting. Since everything is a dollar, sometimes you find some really off the wall rare gems there. I used to love going there as a kid for their toy section.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:55 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


a lot of these reactions really rubbed me the wrong way. They seemed more like another example of smug liberal class signaling than true sympathy that might lead to a change.


Shaming people about talking of their experiences of perceiving the class system won't "lead to a change" either.
posted by thelonius at 6:15 AM on December 5 [8 favorites]


I remember once the lines were really long and I guess there was some kind of problem with the register. Everyone was so patient and stoic. There wasn't even any eye-rolling or sighing. And I thought, this is the nature of poverty - people are used to everything being broken and used to having to be inconvenienced beyond what middle-class people will tolerate, just in order to get the things done that they must do, to get through another day. And I then felt bad about using the customers there as some kind of edifying lesson for myself, because that also seems exploitative. At least I have liberal guilt down.
This seems like a strange explanation for people being kind - that somehow politeness is evidence of a lower status in society, when it should be the expected default. In small stores and neighborhoods like this though, the customer likely knows the person working there, or will see them again, or knows what it’s like to work corporate retail. I’d argue empathy vs. some form of being beaten down.

I’m also strongly with Borborygmous. It feels like judging the store (again, outside of the societal impact) is an acceptable proxy for judging the people who shop there.
posted by bizzyb at 6:40 AM on December 5 [9 favorites]


Can you imagine if a one-percenter said these things about your beloved Target or Costco or retailer of your choice?

I know a few (very few, but still) one-percenters, and they all shop a lot at Costco (as well as at decidedly upmarket places).

But this discussion, and the article itself, are demonstrations of how sharply stratified class lines have become over three or so decades of rapidly increasing inequality. Most people aren't shopping at both dollar stores and Whole Foods (much less whatever store makes Whole Foods look downmarket); demographics and income lead to sharply different experiences. Maybe it was the reporter cherry-picking quotes, but I was struck by how condescending the owners of the company were about their clientele.

I was also saddened by this quote:

At a Dollar General in Nashville, Tenn., store manager Damon Ridley said, he has helped older children put together a dinner menu for their younger siblings with the few dollars they have. "I am more of an outreach manager," he said.

It's great that he does this, but those kids shouldn't be in that position, and in a just society there would be more of a safety net than a kind store manager.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:43 AM on December 5 [11 favorites]


When you grow up white trash, as I did, it forces you to quickly recognize and interpret social and economic class markers. You also get an ear for what people say, versus what they mean underneath the words. They're sort of survival skills.

Sorry, but I don't think the comments Borborygmus pointed out are about 'perceiving the class system'. All I hear is 'Shopping at the Dollar General is beneath me,' and 'I am better than the people that shop there regularly.'
posted by KHAAAN! at 6:50 AM on December 5 [18 favorites]


but who needs more than one bottle of ketchup at a time?
Mormons.
posted by thedward at 7:11 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Shaming people about talking of their experiences of perceiving the class system won't "lead to a change" either.

Heh. Whataboutism -- it's not just for the right wing anymore!

But seriously, you may be "just expressing yourself" -- but I found a lot of the remarks here problematic, and it would be even more wrong to stay silent.

My comments might shame you and not "lead to a change," thelonius, but at least they don't antagonize those who we both claim to sympathize with, and that's a first step.
posted by Borborygmus at 7:13 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Most people aren't shopping at both dollar stores and Whole Foods (much less whatever store makes Whole Foods look downmarket); demographics and income lead to sharply different experiences.

What? I shop at both. They carry different things. No way I'm paying Whole Foods prices for Halloween decorations or a card for some random kid's birthday party. Where I live they are clean enough, so the vibe is different but not that different.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:15 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


"Our buyers can't plan their ketchup purchases in advance"
Many of the executive's comments had a weird comic-villain vibe to me as well, but the ketchup observation wasn't one of them. I didn't interpret it as "they are incapable of planning" so much as "they can't afford bulk purchases", given the preceding context. See also Eyebrows McGee's comment re: Sam Vimes, boots, etc. (though that's not quite the same manifestation).
Most people aren't shopping at both dollar stores and Whole Foods (much less whatever store makes Whole Foods look downmarket); demographics and income lead to sharply different experiences.
What? I shop at both. They carry different things.
Hence "Most people aren't", not "Zero people are".
posted by inconstant at 7:35 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Huh, I've been in Dollar General stores from time to time since around 1995 when they built a location in the little town several miles down the road from our lake house. I never thought it some kind of pit of despair, or even "for" a particular class of person at that point. The only particularly notable thing about their stores was that the buildings were built like (modern) barns with sheet metal siding and not dressed up in the slightest. Other stores were still doing brick or stucco facades over their cheap buildings. At the time, they just sold overstocks and asian-sourced clothes and trinkets and at the time most everything was still a dollar. It in no way even competed with the grocery store.

Some years later during a period when the small town my grandma lived in was down to one crappy grocery store a Dollar General opened up there, also. Same deal, only with a couple of cold cases. They still did a fine business even after a new grocery opened up because five and dimes quit being a thing, so a variety store always has some base level of traffic in a small town.

More recently, they started selling mint thins and other girl scout cookie flavors from the bakeries that make GSKs every year, so when I still lived somewhere with semi-convenient Dollar General locations I'd pop in for cookies pretty often. Thing is, they are still primarily rural and small city focused compared to, say, Family Dollar, of which there are two within half a mile of my house in a very urbanized area. (Also a Super Target, chain grocer, and a Tesla showroom, among many other things)

Not surprising that they've followed the others into the urban poor market. While real grocers are better, any of these stores are a damn sight better than most gas stations.
posted by wierdo at 7:47 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


jim in austin's comment has it right, I think - these are the present-day versions of what people in my region used to call "dime stores" or "variety stores." Woolworth's may have gone away, but the retail niche they popularized is still around, and is being served by Dollar General and its competitors.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 7:54 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Hence "Most people aren't", not "Zero people are".
Again they have 14000 stores and in my city they are like 1 mile apart. The clientele definitely has serious crossover.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:06 AM on December 5


Most people aren't shopping at both dollar stores and Whole Foods

Oh no I'm doing it wrong. :)

This is an interesting topic for me though with the class indicators and all. My mom grew up blue collar on the poor side - her father was an electrician for the city of Pasadena but he had heart problems and wasn't always able to work. A large part of her personality has been shaped by her experience growing up on the edge of poverty. She met my father who was a grad student at Caltech, they married, and she became a professor's wife. They moved to a firmly middle class neighborbood in the midwest.

My mother is fairly rigid about maintaining that sort of sensible middle-class lifestyle. She doesn't buy designer brands but she also will not shop at Walmart. I, on the other hand, was introduced to thrift shopping as a punk wannabe Gen X teen in the early 80s. The first time I went to a thrift store in high school I was pretty freaked out, because it was just so far outside my middle class "department store at the mall" experience.

So now I'm a shopper who will range from a Whole Foods to Trader Joes to regular grocery to a dollar store, or Ross, or Factory 2 U, or a thrift store and my mom is still really rigid about those lines, even when she admires the stuff I've purchased. Just like she used to get embarrassed when her own mother wanted her monthly trip to Pick 'N' Save.

More recently, I've seen the utility of places like Big Lots and Ross/TJ Maxx for animal rescue people. I haven't interacted with any fancy breed rescues, just rescues run by really dedicated working class people and the ability to be able to stock up on inexpensive bowls, treats, blankets and beds from these places is a lifesaver for a rescue's budget.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:23 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


Again they have 14000 stores and in my city they are like 1 mile apart. The clientele definitely has serious crossover.
Where does this "Again" come from? Your first comment only said that you, personally, shop at both because they carry different things. No mention of proximity or of other people.

Like, I've bought things from both of them too. But if I say "I have bought things from them both", that doesn't communicate anything about what other people do, let alone what a majority of people do.
posted by inconstant at 8:40 AM on December 5


I live in a town of 20,000 outside of Raleigh. There's at least 5 "Dollar" type stores 10 minutes or less from my home and that's not even counting Big Lots. One is located in the same strip mall as the most expensive grocery store in town (Lowes.) Another one is in our new outdoor mall tucked in between Targets and Staples. Like many of you I sometimes browse the Dollar Tree store just to see what they have. A few months ago they were selling bags of iridescent glass pebbles and I bought some for my new fishbowl. Another time I needed a squirt gun and I got a 2 pack. I'm planning to go see if I can find a new mop bucket.

On the other hand there is a Family Dollar within walking distance and I avoid that one. It is depressing as heck with dark lighting, dismal displays, broken packaging, etc. And it always feels wrong to go into a place like that and see things marked $3.99. I'd rather shop at Target.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:08 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


But if I say "I have bought things from them both", that doesn't communicate anything about what other people do, let alone what a majority of people do.

It actually does. You are not that special, at least from a marketing standpoint.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:34 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


a limited selection of a shit-ton of stuff, at a higher per-unit cost than a Target, but with much smaller (and therefore cheaper) sizes available

Real talk, I have no idea why this is still mostly a rural phenomenon. I mean, as a millennial city-dweller, I think this is proof they have cracked THE code on how to do brick and mortar retail in the post-Amazon world. Selling smaller quantities and sizes with a high enough per-unit cost to cover separate packaging and still make money is genius. It's not just how to sell to people who can't spend a lot of money at a time to stock up on cheaper-per-unit bulk items. It's also a great way to sell to people who live in apartments. Even if money isn't at a premium, space is. I live alone in 400 sqft, and I will throw my money at the first grocery store that starts selling individually portioned-out items meal kit-style. (Trader Joe's is decent at this but their items are still portioned for 2-4 people rather than one.)
posted by capricorn at 12:19 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


Recent trip to Dollar Tree in Portland with the kiddos (5 & 8) was a mixed bag. Unsurprisingly, certain things were a total steal compared to more mainstream options, like fake flowers (for homemade Halloween costume) at $1 vs $6-9.

Other stuff was just as crappy as the price implies, like kid-craft-activity things (cross-stitch kit with unthreadable plastic needles, growing crystals that didn't, etc.)

Also, you know that thing where bored kids sometime start to beg for every little cheap knickknack on the way through the checkout line until it becomes just one big string of no-no-not today-no-no-NO? That's the entire store.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:15 PM on December 5


No love for 99cents Only stores? I think they're from SoCal, but there's a few in Northern CA. Maybe it's location-dependent, but the grocery items and produce (namely fruits) at the location that I go to is excellent. Their other household items aren't as good as the ones at Dollar Tree, but their garden section is extensive.

I'm one of those people who shops basically anywhere -- Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts, Amazon, Grocery Outlet, 99 Ranch, Chinatown shops, Hispanic grocery stores, Dollar Tree, Big Lots, etc. Idgaf

I'd take a look at Dollar General (never been), but the Family Dollar I went to in Philadelphia was awful -- the items were really low quality and not worth it. The store was grubby and stuff was strewn everywhere. Bleh
posted by extramundane at 1:26 PM on December 5


I miss Building 19.
I think my daughter used to go to Building 19 1/6 when she was in college. She loved it.
(The college closed too)
posted by MtDewd at 2:24 PM on December 5


No, I do not have love for the 99 Cents Only store; in my experience everything in there is complete crap. At least the Dollar Tree has the occasional jewel. (Also pregnancy tests, back when I cared about such things.)

So my new tiny town has a Dollar Tree and a Dollar General. I almost went to the DG today to see what it was all about, but instead I decided to go to the amazing Big Lots in north Reno tomorrow after my dentist appointment. I've only been in there once (but was in a rush to get an aux audio cord and had no time to browse) and I've been meaning to go back ever since.

For some reason Reno has the biggest and nicest Trader Joe's I've ever been in AND the nicest and biggest Big Lots I've ever been in. And I'm a weird connoisseur of both stores.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:40 PM on December 5


I will stand up for 99 Cents Only. I like their truck designs, and I used to find good stuff there. Overstock, experimental flavors of crackers, especially.

I shopped there more frequently when I lived in the (far) suburbs (of Los Angeles), less so now that I live in the city and driving and parking are generally more annoying.

My most recent trips to dollar stores, both Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only have been disappointing. Both locations I've visited have had items for more than a dollar.
posted by itesser at 3:01 PM on December 5


Huh. Neither of the Dollar Trees I've been to had anything for more than a dollar. Must be your local franchisee decided to dilute the brand.

This thread inspired me to go to the local $ Tree today. I bought some stocking stuffers and Jergens soap. I was pleased to see that they still sell the scientific calculator I bought some years ago. I had to buy two, because the first one quit, but the second one still works. So I got a functioning sci calculator for $2. Where else can you do that?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:42 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


gottabefunky, I bought those growing crystals and they did grow! Granted, it was nothing spectacular, but enough that I posted pictures for my friends and we all decided it was a dollar well spent.
posted by one4themoment at 4:08 PM on December 5


On my drive home I have been passing a shopping plaza for the last 15 years. It used to have a series of small grocery stores that slowly and heart-breakingly went out of business and a series of pizzerias that more quickly and heartbreakingly went out of business. I patronized these places and got to know the owners over time, so it was crushing to see them fail to get a foothold. Currently that plaza has a moribund hardware store, a liquor store (never had a problem over the 15 years), a livestock feed store (fingers crossed), and a Family Dollar store. The Family Dollar has been a success from the start, and while I regret the loss of the superior grocery stores, its success is a help to the other stores. I go there often to buy strange toys, cheap scrubs for work, and rock-bottom DVDs.
posted by acrasis at 5:31 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


The only shop (the only thing except cows) next to my mom's depressing nursing home was a Dollar General Store. It was a godsend when visiting for candy and snacks, cheap warm blankets, and knickknacks to brighten up her room. I hope never to go in one again (sad memories), but I'm glad it was there.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 5:23 PM on December 7


Auxvasse Dollar General store to unionize
posted by The Whelk at 4:07 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


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