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Dollar General Takes Over Rural America

The discount chain is thriving in small towns.
December 6, 2017

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. – Dollar General has become a staple in small-town America, where the chain has built thousands of stores, the Wall Street Journal reports. In Evensville, Tennessee, the 7,400 square foot store stocks breakfast cereal, camouflage-pattern socks, plastic toys, milk, eggs, frozen pizza and shower curtains, among other staples in small bags or mini bottles. What it doesn’t sell is fresh meat, fruit or greens.

Dollar General, with its convenient locations for cost-conscious shoppers, has morphed into a profitable merchant in the United States, yielding a $22 billion market value. The discount chain has been quickly expanding with new stores, and plans to continue that dynamic growth in the future, especially in small and rural communities.

“The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,” said CEO Todd Vasos. “We are putting stores today [in areas] that perhaps five years ago were just on the cusp of probably not being our demographic, and it has now turned to being our demographic.”

Dollar General targets shoppers with household incomes of $40,000 or less. Dollar Tree—its closest competitor—sticks to suburban stores and sells everything for $1. Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar Stores in 2015, adding more urban locations to the chain.

This spring, Coca-Cola debuted a line of soft drink cans for Dollar General with labels like “Military Spouse” and “Service Member” because many shoppers have a military connection. Popular brands come in smaller packages priced under $10. Prices are marked in nickel increments to make it easy for customers to know what they’re spending. “They don’t want to be embarrassed when they get up to the register,” Vasos said.