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Wal-mart has always targeted the rural customer, but built big stores in small towns. So it wasn't so much, as Kos suggests, that urban or suburban customers were driving out to the boonies to patronize Wal-mart. It was more that those in rural areas were driving in to the small towns to do business at Wal-mart (where Wal-mart had already driven out all the mom-and-pops that these people used to patronize). And frankly, since the mid-'90s, Wal-mart has built mostly in the suburbs anyhow.

But someone has literally and figuratively short-circuited Wal-mart's access to rural customers.

I don't know what's going on in your part of the country, but in my area, Dollar General is defying the big-box mentality of Wal-mart by building its small-box stores at wide spots in every rural road. Not even in towns. Just out in the middle of nowhere -- so to speak.

A Dollar General store typically has a footprint the size of a large gas station/convenience store, 4000 square feet or less. And they are not your typical "dollar stores" where cheap Asian-made goods are sold for $1. Dollar General is more like what we used to call a 5-and-10 or five-and-dime -- Woolworths, Kresge's, etc. A small, local store that stocked a variety of brand-name goods and groceries, with a national chain network that allowed it to buy in volume and command deep discounts from wholesalers and manufacturers.

So if you lived in a rural area, what would you rather do? Drive 15 miles to town to go to Wal-Mart, fight for a parking space, navigate the crowds, walk all the way through the store, and then wait in line at checkout? Or would you rather stop at the Dollar General that sprung up by the side of the state road just 7 miles away, easy in and easy out?

I'm on the road in rural areas over three Tennessee counties every day for business, and I have seen easily 20 Dollar Generals spring up in my area in the last two years. I thought a while ago that this was a shrewd strategy to outfox Wal-mart. Given this latest information, it might be working.

Is anyone seeing a similar effect in their area? There are other small-box retailers besides Dollar General that follow this model -- Family Dollar, et. al. -- but they usually set up in suburban or small town shopping plazas. Has anyone seen a regional or national chain of small-box retailers building alongside rural roads?

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Comment Preferences

  •  In this day and age, when a large portion of the (8+ / 0-)

    food sold in places llike Walmart have so many products grown/raised with huge amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics), I'd like to think that people are voting with their dollars on fresh and local products first.  Here's just one of many sites where you can find a local farmers market or CSA in the US to eat responsibly.

  •  I go to Dollar General every couple days (15+ / 0-)

    Cat food, toothpaste and the like. They're a few cents more than Walmart but much less in fuel to get there. The nearest one is about 5 minutes away and I know the people working there.

  •  They did an infill project in Modesto. We lived (16+ / 0-)

    about 2 miles away from an older strip mall. It had a Savemart in it when we got there in '95. They closed that store about 3 years later. The other big anchor tenant was a chain pharmacy. The name escapes me. They closed about a year or so after. A thrift store took over the pharmacy. It lasted about a year. Then I believe an Ace Hardware tried it and failed. The old Savemart got took over by one of those total discount crap stores. It was right after that we moved away. Dollar General took over the pharmacy about a year ago. Our friends still live down there and they like it because it's a half mile from the house and has great deals. It's a national chain out of the SE from what I understand. If they source produce local - that would be cool. Wal-Mart is a fully loaded freighter. It isn't going to stop and turn for shit. They opened a supercenter in Dixon. I have been there exactly twice. Only because I was up in Sacramento anyway. Veggies and meat were dismal. If you're into frozen food - holy crap - they got miles of it. And the goddamn thing is so big that you gotta walk 50 miles. It was not a pleasant experience. And no way would I drive 60 miles round trip to do it. Plenty of local choices within a 10 mile radius.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 09:41:26 PM PST

  •  I live in farm country (6+ / 0-)

    While we have a sorta local Walmart (big county) it's small and not a super center, it closes at 10pm and has no pharmacy and almost no groceries. To be honest, it's about the size of three dollar generals. It's 1/8 mile from a dollar general....the other 5 dollar general stores are between us and the nearest super center which is 35 miles away. Not counting convenience stores, dollar trees and lots of Amish grocery stores, bakeries, furniture and lumber. There are two general stores owned by the Amish between us and Walmart. Hadn't thought about it much really, lots of dollar generals (went there a couple of days ago to get my dog a new soccer ball), haven't seen Walmart in two weeks, not even in passing.

    Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.-Terry Pratchett

    by Shippo1776 on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:14:41 PM PST

    •  we have a superstore now (5+ / 0-)

      only half stocked and one-quarter manned.  It is too durned big for someone with a gait impairment to make it to all the various depts.  The alternate to Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Live, something the dinos taught us

      •  Around here (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Amish run what is called 'salvage' grocery stores. Costs less than Walmart so people on fixed incomes go there. There are 4 of those sprinkled around that I know of just off the main road. Add in summer crowds from Louisville, between Louisville and Rough River (summer lake area) there are ZERO walmarts. They focused on the lake Cumberland crowd, Rough River gets the weekend boaters, Cumberland doesn't, we get the fishermen, Cumberland doesn't. It's all locally owned family general stores (except for 1 Kroger). That's thousands of weekend day trippers every summer who aren't shopping at chain stores.

        Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.-Terry Pratchett

        by Shippo1776 on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 06:03:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dollar general's (3+ / 0-)

    lines are still slow though. Not to sure how they treat people on the supply chain, but I applied at one of their warehouse's once, they had a lot of free educational programs available for non English speakers. I'd have to look in to it, but it seems they treat their workers well.

  •  Wal-Mart will inevitably lose market share, (6+ / 0-)

    and rightfully so. They're big and unwieldy, so they're going to be out maneuvered by smaller box stores like Dollar General, they're going to be outserviced by companies like Amazon, and Cost-Co is going to kick their ass because they're willing to pay for help that's going to help them change with the times. Wal-Mart is already becoming a dinosaur, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch. Unfortunately, they've taken out a lot of small businesses in this process.

    "There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it."

    by camlbacker on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 01:26:06 AM PST

  •  No better ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you forgo Wally's on the grounds of principle, like wage fairness etc ... pass on the DG's too.

    I also believe the CEO of DG comes in the top 5 or so in wage gap over workers.

    Just Yellow "mini" Wally's really.

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

    by RUNDOWN on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 02:02:55 AM PST

  •  happened here where the mall store replaced (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yo Bubba

    the general store and Walmart killed them off.  Dollar General is killing off Walmart here too as there are at least 4 Dollar Generals between here and Walmart, not to mention that Walmart is too big for older folks to comfortably walk and the scooters are generally taken by kids to zoom around the store with

  •  Dollar Generals are popping up around here (0+ / 0-)

    like mushrooms after a rainstorm.  I drive around 30 miles to work and there have been several new Dollar General stores open on that route.  There's even a new Dollar General Market that has fresh fruit and vegetables that look good.

    “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”-Brandi Snyder (in memory of my Nick)

    by YellowDogInGA on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 03:37:32 AM PST

  •  Still paying minimum wage and siphoning... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russ Jarmusch, swansong50, unfangus

    all profits out of rural locations into the pockets of a colossal corporation far, far away.

    It's still FAIL all the way down compared to locally owned stores that actually have a stake in the community beyond looting it.

  •  DG ... Grocery store or variety store? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russ Jarmusch

    Here's one case where they bought a vacant bank, came in, and might well put a local grocery store out of business.

    On the Eastern Shore they tend to locate in the towns due to water-sewer issues which limit commercial zoning.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 03:49:42 AM PST

  •  Dollar General and Family Dollar stores (0+ / 0-)

    are popping up all over in OH.  I have only been in one of them out of curiosity, but they must have an amazing inventory system to be able to keep so many stores stocked.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 06:58:50 AM PST

  •  seen it and now walmart is building microstores (0+ / 0-)

    across the street from these dollar stores like they did in our small town of 1000 peeps

  •  Haven't noticed much DG activity in my area (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But one of the new Wally World Mini Markets opened fairly recently.  It is pretty much a grocery store and pharmacy without all the other stuff.  It was placed in a fairly affluent section of town in an easy to get to area that was already served by two major grocery stores and a full blow WM a few miles down the road.  

    I've stopped in there a couple of times, but not very often and only because I was in the area making it convenient or the store chain I normally shop at was out of a particular sale item that I wanted (a particular strawberry yogurt).

    WM is certainly not my first pick of stores for any product and definitely not for groceries.  My top three reasons being, in order: prices really aren't that good - especially on meat, getting into around, and out of the store is a real pain in the ass, and third, I don't like their business practices.

    When it comes to buying larger and bulk quantities, Costco beats them hands down.  However like WM you still need to watch Costco because everything isn't a deal there and it takes a fair amount of money to shop there because everything is pretty much a minimum of $10.  

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 07:57:28 AM PST

    •  Costco charges me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unfangus, blackhand

      about $300 to get out every time I go there. ;)
      But...I come out with a lot of decent food, and enough toilet paper to see me through two years of the apocalypse...

      How does the Republican Congress sit down with all the butthurt over taxing the wealthy?

      by athenap on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 08:38:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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