No Welcome Mat for Family Dollar

Discussion
Oct 10, 2011
Tom Ryan

A national chain’s arrival has the locals upset over fears of the potential loss of jobs as well as their community spirit. But it’s not Walmart this time; it’s Family Dollar.

After news hit the small mountain community of Ridgway, CO that the budget chain was coming to their town, residents staged protest rallies and collected more than 700 signatures asking Family Dollar not to open a store. After failing to convince Family Dollar’s management to change their mind and failing to prevent them from obtaining a building permit, residents launched an online pledge calling for a national boycott of the chain.

"It’s an issue that a majority of people in Ridgway feel passionate about," Vicci Spencer, a Ridgway resident and an organizer of Citizens to Preserve Ridgway, told the Telluride Watch. "We all moved here because we wanted to get away from life in big cities that are full of Walmarts and big box stores. We like the character of our little small town, and its aesthetics are very important to us. We are here for the beauty and the small Western town atmosphere and we want to keep it that way."

Family Dollar spokesman Josh Braverman told The Charlotte Observer that he’s received emails from Ridgway residents enthused about the store, which will eliminate almost a 60-mile round-trip to the nearest Family Dollar in Montrose, CO.

At 8,000 square feet, the Ridgway Family Dollar will be far smaller than a typical big box, that run from 50,000 to 200,000 square feet, and won’t kill local businesses, he added.

"We take pride in offering our neighbors a great value alternative on the name-brand items they need and use every day," Mr. Braverman told The Denver Post. "We’re a community store that employs five to seven people from the local area, and we look for ways to give back directly to the communities we serve through our corporate giving."

Besides pushing for the national and local boycott of Family Dollar, Citizens to Preserve Ridgway is focusing on changing town codes to keep out any future chain stores.

Ms. Spencer told The Denver Post, "Since our appeals to the corporation have gone unheeded, we are fighting back with the only weapons available — our pocketbooks and public opinion."

Discussion Questions: How strong is anti-chain sentiment across the country? Should retailers take local sentiment into consideration when deciding whether to open a store or not?

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25 Comments on "No Welcome Mat for Family Dollar"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

When 700 of the 950 people in town don’t want you to be there, what do you think your market potential is? While I don’t think there is a strong anti-chain sentiment nationally, the fact that an overwhelming majority of your market says we don’t want you is a compelling reason to avoid that market (or revise your expectation for that store’s performance).

This should not be confused with the anti-Walmart sentiment we often see. There, a small minority are usually concerned with traffic and its impact on local business. A Walmart can put lots of businesses in trouble, not so much for a dollar store.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

It’s a bit surprising in this day and age as it does look like the late ’90s push against Walmart. Is it a big box or the acknowledged, visible sign this is a poorer community that gets people upset? I posit the later.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 7 months ago

If you prefer to live in a bucolic environment, then any perceived infringement by a chain entering can cause resentment. Thus the Ridgway Sentiment.

Whether the Ridgway Mindset exists everywhere may be a mystery but there are many locations where a low-cost chain is welcome.

It is always prudent for a chain to take local sentiments into consideration as they plan their market development plans and thoughtfully balance against company objectives to grow, take advantage of opportunities and profit generation. Walmart may have killed small downtown America but it also became the world’s largest retailers in three decades. Naturally that epic change in serving the marketplace caused both resentment and elation.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 7 months ago

It’s articles like these that make me scratch my head. Here you actually have a business that wants to open up shop and become part of the community in an era of cutbacks and closures. Yet the ‘community’ itself is more concerned about aesthetics than economic stimulation? It just doesn’t make any real sense to me especially in the current economic situation that the US is in.

Hayes Minor
Guest
Hayes Minor
9 years 7 months ago

What a strategic opportunity for Family Dollar to enter a community and truly make a difference by helping with local efforts, charities and employing the residents of the community. Perhaps then these shoppers will be willing to embrace the benefits of Family Dollar’s presence beyond just product selection.

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Ridgway is about 25 miles south of Montrose, which has not just a Family Dollar but also a Walmart and presumably, other big-box stores to choose from. Perhaps there is a desire to keep chain retailers out of town, perhaps there is some “snob appeal” going on here since dollar stores are perceived (rightly or wrongly) as retail bottom-feeders.

But is Family Dollar really an economic threat to the specialty stores (including a lot of art and antique dealers) in Ridgway? And can the town use a viable employer? It seems to me (to answer the original question posed to panelists) that anti-chain sentiment is not especially high given unemployment rates around the country and the benefits of retail development.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

I recall the song “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets” as I read this article. It seems the retail chain, in this case, Family Dollar, is going to do what they want no matter how strong the anti sentiment is. Walmart fought this for years; and still does in some smaller communities. It is not going to stop them from moving in. Boycotts are not going to last long if at all. Jobs are important. It appears no jobs will be lost because of the entry of Family Dollar; or at least that was not mentioned. If the community as a whole is helped, then come on in.

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

There are always going to be people and places that do not want change. And there are always people determined to get around that.

The Village of Lake Forest, IL wanted no QSR in town, so they passed an ordinance requiring table service. The McDonald’s built there a few years later is still the only one I know where your Sunday morning Egg McMuffin is delivered to your table on a plate with silverware.

On the opposite spectrum, my neighbor and I had to petition the state of NC NOT to pave our road when there was so much “infrastructure improvement money” running around the county that they were paving cow paths.

This is not a trend that is going to stop Family Dollar or any other chain’s progress. They will figure out a way meet requirements of communities they want to serve — just like the big box stores have.

David Livingston
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

It all depends. This sounds more of a joke by misguided locals. I think an 8,000 sq. ft., low-volume retailer will go mostly unnoticed. Most likely this community just wants to keep any kind of national name out of the market. I’ve seen towns try to keep Subway out, McDonald’s out, etc. If it’s a high income tourist town, I can see how they would want to maintain the town’s character. Sometimes you can compromise by not allowing the store to have a sign, or keep the sign extremely small. But obviously 99% of the country doesn’t care.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

I have a Dollar General that shares my wall right next door to me, and it is difficult dealing with them, from my perspective. Consumers only care about price (most do), and I have to learn to live with them, by pushing the perimeter of my store. All of my household aisle is about gone, and cereals, pop, chips, and condiments have taken a hit. People flock to these types of stores, and this is a powerful force to reckon with. Most customers will welcome them, and a few might complain, so the dollar stores will win out and do quite well.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Anti-chain sentiment varies from town to town, and should be considered by retailers when looking at where to place a store. In this instance, Family Dollar seems to be going against local sentiment. Once the store opens, all will see if it is welcomed by the revenue it generates.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Some small communities are very much against chain stores and restaurants and either have passed or should pass regulations to control them. On the other hand, most Americans would prefer low cost and cookie cutter operations over service and relationships. They like the airline model.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Each small town is different in its sentiment regarding chains and it will likely vary amongst various chains. The issue in this instance is that it appears the overwhelming majority of the people are against Family Dollar opening a store. Hopefully that will change or the community will find itself with an empty 8,000 square foot building looking for a tenant.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
9 years 7 months ago

Obviously, many of the residents of this community bought property there to escape from the Family Dollars of the world and now are very unhappy to see them invading their “space.” They need to pass local laws that will make it very difficult or at least highly undesirable for businesses that they don’t want to enter. It sounds like they have enough people in agreement to be able to easily legislate whatever they need to do. The Family Dollars of the world will survive just fine with out being in every small town in America.

Doug Fleener
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

I don’t see this as a national issue at all. If I was Family Dollar, I’d move on to the next town. There are plenty who would be happy to have a retailer who hires local residents and offers the community a better selection at a lower price.

Mark Barnhouse
Guest
Mark Barnhouse
9 years 7 months ago
This is the sort of story that gives liberals (like myself) a bad name, especially here in Colorado. Telluride, like other Colorado resort towns, exists in a bubble. Inside this magic place, everyone is highly educated and affluent, and the poor live in cities. The reality is quite different: all resort towns have to have less affluent satellites where workers can afford to live; in Colorado, 70-mile commutes for resort workers are not uncommon. Ridgway is one of those towns; Telluride hotel maids and waiters commute to work from here, driving past Ralph Lauren’s vast (and scenic) Double RL Ranch on their way. Telluride is also trying to tell other satellite towns what they can’t do; in nearby Uravan, it’s all about not re-opening the uranium mine so that the blue collar workers can actually make money. If Family Dollar wants to make the lives of Ridgway’s poor a little easier (Montrose is in the opposite direction from Telluride — why should they have to drive so far to get basic essentials?), that’s a good… Read more »
Dave Wendland
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

I don’t believe this is a national sentiment. There will forever be a group of individuals who not only resist change to a community, but the “big bad wolf” that could enter in sheep’s clothing.

Family Dollar is a fine organization that could bring significant value to this community. It’s about good citizenship by the company and consumer choice for the community. If the store underperforms, it won’t remain open. However, instinct suggests it will do just fine.

Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Sounds as if the folks in this community feel left out of the “protests on Wall Street,” and needed to capture some exposure.

Think we have to borrow from the Bard on this one…much ado about nothing. Family Dollar has acted in a positive, responsive manner in the communities they serve. Look for them to decisively win these residents over in the coming months.

Larry Negrich
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Let the good people of Ridgway do their voting with their hard-earned income. If the 700 signatures are reflective of the community’s future purchasing habits then it will be a short stay for the retailer in this town. In the meantime the town will benefit from a few jobs, a little extra tax base revenue, and some retail competition. All good things. And who knows, this Family Dollar might there a good, long time.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 7 months ago

Anti chain sentiment is virtually non existent. You see a story like this every once and a while. Hundreds of chain stores are being built daily that never elicit a peep of protest. Ask Vicci Spencer if the town would feel the same way if it was Whole Foods. I predict that the store will open and prosper!

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
9 years 7 months ago
Sentiments are very local in flavor and makeup and as in the case of Ridgway, there is more to the story than the town simply being anti-chain. If one were to take a closer look at Ridgway, you may note that it has developed a sophisticated plan for its community which spans economic, esthetic and environmental goals. These goals include a town that reflects its history and desire to retain a robust local flavor and sees this as a measure of its ability to survive and flourish into the future. Their local retail is robust with around 18 retailers that include a bike shop, several home decor stores, coffee shops, boutiques, hardware stores, liquor, an Emporium, Pharmacy, a Garden Nursery, a book store and several other businesses. The town seems to want to be successful in developing and retaining small businesses and appears to want to emulate its nearby Artistically known communities such as Durango. It is very possible that they are less concerned about a national chain and its impact on their economy as… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 7 months ago
Oh, no! An “almost 60-mile round-trip [for Ridgway residents] to the nearest Family Dollar in Montrose Colorado!” How can Ridgway Coloradans survive? Certainly, all of us can relate to being geographically separated from a Family Dollar store. I feel your pain. I also feel the Ridgway citizens’ pain about being separated from an IMAX theater by a 600+ mile round trip. Oh, the humanity! If I were a chain trying to make inroads in small communities against public sentiment, I’d promise the following: Basic reading, math, and communication training for all employees to help them understand, institute, and communicate all company policies and procedures. This would be great for the chain and even better for their minimum-wage, lesser-educated employees. And of course, it applies directly to their promise of “extra jobs” for the community. Think about our U.S. military. The kids coming out of our military training programs have been taught how to think, how to calculate, and how to express themselves clearly and concisely. It’s remarkable! I’d bet on any U.S. soldier against any… Read more »
Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
9 years 7 months ago

Let the market decide. If Family Dollar opens and no one shops there, they will close. An online petition against choice is neither democratic nor economically sound.

Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 7 months ago
There is only anti-chain sentiment, if it really exists at all, until the store opens. After that, if value and/or price is there, they thrive and it becomes a case of survival of the fittest. In my region there has been sentiment against Walmart and Meijer in dozens of communities. It lasted until the grand opening flyers hit the mailbox. That was it and it was over. Their lots were full from that day forward. Should retailers bow to community concerns or local sentiment? Sure, they should, and where they can, but there are limits. Where retailers continuously make mistakes in these types of instances is not getting out in front of all of the issues and allowing them to arise at all during the processes. These are really not the primary issues for retailers that want to build in any town regardless of the sentiment. The real issues are the level of federal, state and local regulation burden placed on retail businesses (or any business for that matter) trying to build, grow and add… Read more »
Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

There is very little anti-chain sentiment in the USA. The consumer votes with their pocketbook, and these dollar votes speak and reflect a strong demand for chain and discount stores as their continued growth across the USA shows. Family Dollar would not be building a new store IF there was not demand for their retail chain. If all of these vocal consumers were serious about not wanting a FD store in their town, they would simply not purchase product at the store….

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