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Dollar General Chain Sees Room To Grow In Vermont

Steve Zind
Dollar General now has 20 Vermont stores.

The nation’s largest discount retailer continued to expand in Vermont in 2013.

According to the company's latest annual report, Dollar General opened three new stores in Vermont last year.  The Tennessee-based chain says it now has 20 Vermont stores.  In 2007, the company had just one outlet in the state.

Unlike much larger discount box stores like Wal-Mart, Dollar General’s business model enables it to place its smaller stores in many rural locations.  The company says 70 percent of the 11,215 Dollar General locations in 40 states are in communities with populations of fewer than 20,000.

While the term ‘dollar store’ is a misnomer, most Dollar General items are priced at less than $10.

There are indications Dollar General’s expansion in Vermont will continue.  According to the annual report, “The results of our initial review affirm our confidence in our ability to continue to expand our store base at the current pace for the foreseeable future. In 2014, we plan to open 700 new stores [nationally].”

A Dollar General spokesman told VPR last fall, “We’ve been very well received in the markets that we’re operating in in Vermont.  Our stores do quite well.”

Dollar General’s expansion has not occurred without resistance in some Vermont communities, most notably in Chester where there has been a long court battle.

Dollar General is the most established of the smaller retail discount stores with outlets in Vermont.

Dollar Tree and Family Dollar compete for the same market, but Dollar General also sees stores like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid as competitors. Of those only Rite Aid, with more than 30 Vermont stores, rivals Dollar General’s presence in the state.

Dollar General will likely have more competition in the future. In response to the popularity of the ‘dollar store’ model, Wal-Mart is expanding its line of smaller stores and supermarket-sized Neighborhood Market outlets.

In some Vermont communities there are concerns that Dollar General's expansion threatens local general stores that carry many of the same items.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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