Dollar Stores Invade Rural Towns

Maybe you’ve noticed how dollar stores are springing up everywhere?

In Amanda, Ohio, (in Fairfield County) population about 750, there are two dollar stores bookending the 6-block main drag. Two.

Why is this?

According to a new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “one place the dollar chains think they will find enduring poverty is rural America. Small towns have been battered by corporate consolidation. Mergers have triggered plant closures. Agribusiness giants have slashed farmers’ incomes. As a result, rural communities have experienced little in the way of new business and job growth during the current economic recovery, new data show.”

Part of the blame rests on Walmart’s and other big-box retailers’ shoulders. Small towns hovering around larger communities often lost their retail shops when conglomerates moved in. The new challenge for local small-town grocers are dollar stores, according to David Procter, an expert on community development and director of the Rural Grocery Initiative at Kansas State University. Local communities not only lose fresh food and produce when local grocers are forced to leave; communities also lose income tax because dollar stores pay less and pay fewer people.

Some cities have resisted this, and the first step is to identify lax zoning regulations that allow the proliferation of “formula stores.” You can read more in the ILSR’s report, “How One City Fought Back.”

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