A proposed Dollar General in Ebony, Va., would be across the street from a locally owned general store.Credit...
Continue reading the main story
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.
By Michael Corkery
Photographs by Andrea Bruce
Reporting from Ebony, Va.
Anne Hartley’s brick house in Ebony, Va., overlooks windswept fields, a Methodist church, a general store and the intersection of two country roads, a pastoral setting that evokes an Edward Hopper painting or a faded postcard from the South.
Now this scene is being threatened, Ms. Hartley said, by a plan to build what every small American town seems to have: a Dollar General.
A descendant of one of Ebony’s founding families, Ms. Hartley says the discount store — which would be built next to her home — will create traffic problems in the area, with people drawn to the brand’s signature yellow sign and its aisles filled with inexpensive food and household staples.
Beyond the store itself, Ms. Hartley and many others with ties to Ebony think it will open the door to additional development that will spoil the character of their tiny, rural community of about 230 people. The name of their website and the rallying cry for their campaign against the Dollar General is “Keep Ebony Country.”
“We don’t want over-commercialization to destroy the integrity of the community,” Ms. Hartley said.
Jerry Jones also has strong feelings about Dollar General. He, too, grew up in Ebony and, for several years, was Ms. Hartley’s classmate at the local public school. He went on to manage grocery stores around southern Virginia and later owned a gas station in Ebony that sold freshly baked biscuits and deep-fried baloney burgers.
Mostly retired now, Mr. Jones owns the land where the Dollar General would be built. He said the store would provide the county’s residents a convenient and affordable place to shop, while also generating sorely needed tax revenue.
“You still need to have that balance between the people with nicer things and the people who live paycheck to paycheck,” Mr. Jones said. “To me, Dollar General fits right in with that.”
The dispute in Ebony, which has been going on for more than three years, is about planning and zoning, but it also touches on a deeper issue simmering in many parts of rural America, whether the disputes are about cellphone towers or snowmobile trails. What does “country” mean to different people in a small community?
In most places, Dollar General is winning. Across the United States, the company has made an aggressive pushto permeate thousands of far-flung or impoverished communities with stores that, along with low prices, are criticized for their unhealthy food offerings and low-paid employees.
An increasing number of these proposed dollar stores are leading to disputes, generating opponents in small towns and struggling cities. The retailer has been assailed by a think tank for the negative effects it has on small businesses and by the Biden administration for the unkempt condition of its stores.
Yet, a vast majority of the proposed dollar stores are being built. One in three stores that opened in the United States in 2022 was a dollar store.
Those who oppose the proposed Dollar General in Ebony are trying to buck the trend.
About 90 milessouth of Richmond, Ebony sits on the edge of Lake Gaston and is a haven for second homes that serve as an important tax base. Ebony is part of Brunswick County, once a hub for tobacco farming, where the median household income is about $49,600, far below the statewide median of $80,600. More than half the county’s population is Black.
The five-member Brunswick County Board of Supervisors approved a zoning change that would allow the store to be built in a 3-to-2 vote.
The supervisors who voted to approve the store declined to comment, citing a lawsuit that Ms. Hartley and other opponents filed challenging their decision.
In a statement, Dollar General said that it offered fresh produces in thousands of stores and provided a “safe work environment” and “competitive wages.”
“We regularly hear from communities, particularly in rural areas, asking us to bring a Dollar General to their hometown,” the company added. “We understand a Dollar General would be welcomed by many Ebony residents and hope to be able to serve that community.”
Many of the opponents of the store are driven by their appreciation for Ebony’s past and what they hope can be preserved. Andsome relative newcomers to the community are sympathetic to their argument. Mohamed Abouemara moved to southern Virginia from New York to operate convenience stores and has run the Ebony General Store for nine years.
He said his store, where locals can socialize and buy hot food, played an important role in a rural community.
A dollar store, he said, would significantly hurt his business. “Jerry is a friend of mine,” Mr. Abouemara said of Mr. Jones. “I am not angry at him. But if he still owned his store, he would not let a Dollar General come here.”
A sense of place.
Ms. Hartley is a meticulous keeper of family and Ebony history. Her family has owned land in the area for generations, and her great-grandfather named the community in the late 1800s after a black horse called Ebony.
The family also ran a local store. When Ms. Hartley was growing up in Ebony in the 1960s, her father operated a business, which had a butcher shop, a barbershop and a mill in the back. Ms. Hartley helped her parents in the store when she was still a child, and she remembers her father working long hours, from early in the morning until late in the evening. “It was the center of our family life,” she said of small-town retailing.
Ms. Hartley attended the University of North Carolina, where she majored in math and later worked as a computer programmer, a rare position for a woman in the 1970s and ’80s and a point of pride for her.
She now owns her family’s house in Ebony, where family photos, spanning many generations, cover the walls and side tables.
Ms. Hartley’s primary residence is in Chapel Hill, N.C., about 90 miles south, but sheregularly visitsthe house in Ebony.
Ms. Hartley says she is intent on protecting a rural intersection from a box store for the good of a community and local economy, which is seeking to boost tourism.
Her lawsuit argues that the county has violated its own comprehensive plan that calls out the importance of the area’s scenic landscapes. The county has said in court papers that the plan is merely meant as a guide for development.
Dozens of local residents and people with roots in Ebony have mobilized against the development as part of the Ebony Preservation Group. They have raised donations to support their legal fight and lobbied the state to have the community considered to be part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Elizabeth Nash Horne, whose parents and grandparents are buried in a cemetery next to the proposed store, said a chain retailer in Ebony was “just unnecessary.” There are already three existing dollar stores only a few miles from Ebony.
Some say they recognize that the county needs tax revenue. “But are we going to sell our soul for anything that comes along?” said Bobby Conner, who grew up in Ebony and now works on tourism initiatives for Brunswick County.
The main route into Ebony from the interstate is Route 903, a two-lane road lined by billboards advertising real estate that eventually opens up into farm fields and pine groves.
Route 903 comes to an intersection in Ebony where there is a gas station on one side of the road and, on the other, the Ebony General Store, a dimly lit warren of canned vegetables and soda bottles where the smell of fried catfish mingles with that of steaming hot dogs.
Sid Cutts, a home builder who has developed properties on Lake Gaston, said Ebony and other historic-looking crossroads were becoming increasingly rare in the South.
“I use the term rural elegance,” Mr. Cutts said in describing Ebony.
Mr. Cutts said his clients from larger cities who were building lake houses were important to the community because they spent money at the local businesses. But they are seeking the down-home charm they can find at the long-running Ebony General Store,he said,not another Dollar General.
‘I am pure country.’
Mr. Jones says he, too, has Ebony’s best interest at heart in seeking to bring a Dollar General to the community.
Mr. Jones’s father and grandfather bought land in Ebony in the 1950s and many members of his family still live in Ebony. Several of them are neighbors of Ms. Hartley.
Mr. Jones did not go to college, but he worked his way up through A.&P., managing several stores in Virginia.
In the 1990s, Mr. Jones built a gas station and convenience store across from the Ebony General Store.
He sold his store in 2005 and now lives in a nearby town, though he regularly farms land in Ebony. Mr. Jones said he didn’t understand how putting a third business in a well-trafficked intersection would destroy Ebony’s rural character.
“What character do they really want to save?” he said. “I am still going to be out there on my tractor. None of that is going to change one iota. I just won’t have to drive as far to get a cold drink or a Pop-Tart.”
Mr. Jones’s aunt Betty Lett lives across the street from where the store would be built. She thinks a dollar store would bring new excitement to Ebony.
“I am pure country,” Ms. Lett said one afternoon while sittingacross from Mr. Jones in her living room. An antique doll perched on a swing hung from the ceiling.
Mr. Jones shrugged off the criticisms of dollar stores — that their aisles and dumpsters outside are a mess and that their employees underpaid. He pointed out that the hourly minimum wage in Virginia is $12.
“I never even made it to $10 an hour,” said Ms. Lett, who retired in 2007, after four decades of factory and distribution center work. “I should go back to work,” she joked.
Shaunton Taylor, who stopped to fill up on gas at the Ebony General Store one afternoon, said she would still shop there even if a dollar store came along.
Ms. Taylorlives in a home on a family homestead, three miles from the site of the proposed Dollar General. The homestead was first inhabited by her great-grandparents, who were farmers.
“I am open-minded about new things, especially in a rural area,”said Ms Taylor, who works at a nursing home and also writes poetry. “You have to accept anything new.”
This year, Ms. Hartley asked for the Virginia Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that the issue of how a county interprets its comprehensive plan would “affect all Virginians for years to come.” She is confident that her group will eventually prevail.
In the meantime, Ms. Hartley reached out to Mr. Jones with an offer: She told him that a supporter of her group would match whatever the developer of the Dollar General store would pay Mr. Jones for the property — about $88,000, Mr. Jones said.
But Mr. Jones declined. His idea and the preservation group’s idea for what should happen with the land, he said, “just don’t match.”
Audio produced by Sarah Diamond.
Michael Corkery is a business reporter who writes about low-wage workers, the economy and industry. Before joining The Times in 2014, he reported for The Wall Street Journal and The Providence Journal. @mcorkery5
A version of this article appears in print on , Section
of the New York edition
with the headline:
Battling A Store, Bucking A Trend. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
Continue reading the main story
Dollar General is not owned by China. However, the company buys a large portion of its merchandise from China. Its competitor Dollar Tree also buys a large portion of its goods from China. That's not surprising, as China is the largest supplier of low-cost goods that companies like Dollar General sell.Why is Dollar Tree so cheap? ›
BUT, they are often just offered cheaper because they operate on slimmer margins than grocery stores. Many items were surplus or overstock items from a company.Who owns Dollar General? ›
Todd Vasos is the current CEO of Dollar General. John Garratt is the company's executive vice-president and CFO. Jeffrey Owen is the chief operating officer. Institutional investors control about 91.45 percent of the outstanding shares of Dollar General Corporation, according to CNN Business.Why are Dollar General stores so messy? ›
Wondering why Dollar General stores are so messy? Walking into a dollar store in disarray isn't a rarity, but that's by design. These stores run on minimal staff and they're built to move a lot of product quickly. If that product has to sit on floors or in boxes for a bit while a cashier handles the register, so be it.What is Dollar General changing their name to? ›
Now, the company will expand its push to win wealthier customers in the suburbs using a new store model and name: Popshelf. Dollar General (DG) said Thursday it will open 1,000 Popshelf stores over the next four years.What percentage of USD is owned by China? ›
This ranks China as the second largest holder of US government debt, after Japan. China is gradually reducing its holding of US dollar reserve, down to 25% in 2023 from 59% of its total foreign-exchange in 2016.Why is Dollar Tree being boycotted? ›
Community leaders in Tennessee are threatening to boycott Dollar Tree if it fails to properly clean its stores after a rodent infestation was discovered at a distribution center in Arkansas, which supplies its Family Dollar chain.How does dollar General sell stuff so cheap? ›
Instead of selling items in bulk, Dollar General sells small quantities of items to keep the cost of each transaction down. It might seem like you are getting a better deal as the prices stay below $10, but ultimately, you're likely paying more on a per-ounce or per-item basis.Is Dollar Tree going back to a dollar? ›
Dollar Tree changed its standard price point from $1 to $1.25 in 2022, and there are more changes coming. The Fortune 500 company has also been working on Dollar Tree Plus, a new initiative for expanding the products that are available in stores.Who is the largest stockholder in Dollar General? ›
|Stockholder||Stake||Total value ($)|
|The Vanguard Group, Inc.||7.91%||3,838,140,755|
|BlackRock Fund Advisors||5.30%||2,572,298,649|
|T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. (I...||5.15%||2,501,042,122|
|SSgA Funds Management, Inc.||4.46%||2,162,630,646|
There are 19,135 Dollar General stores in the United States as of May 22, 2023. The state with the most number of Dollar General locations in the US is Texas, with 1,778 stores, which is about 9% of all Dollar General stores in the US.Is Walmart cheaper than Dollar General? ›
Long gone are the days when everything at Dollar General costs a dollar, but the discount retailer still lags behind some of its competitors when it comes to low prices. According to a new study by Bank of America, Walmart and Aldi have the best prices on food and other basic necessities.Why does Dollar General pay so little? ›
Maintaining low labor costs is a key component of Dollar General's business model. The chain pays workers an average of $9.68 an hour, the lowest rate of any major retailer. Walmart, not exactly a leader in high-road labor practices, pays its workers an average $13.08 an hour. Target, meanwhile, has a $15 minimum wage.Is Dollar General going private? ›
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dollar General, which is in the middle of a restructuring to boost sales and reduce turnover, said Monday that it agreed to go private in a $6.9 billion deal.What is the best day to shop at Dollar General? ›
Best Day to Shop: Friday or Saturday
Almost weekly, Dollar General deals include a $5 Off $25. They are usually available on their website, or they text them to you. It's a great way to get these Dollar General secret savings!
The company added 227 new stores in the quarter, bringing its total to 18,566. Right now, Dollar General's growth strategy mainly hinges on doing the same things that made it successful for decades: keeping costs low and opening new stores in the right markets.Who is Dollar General's target audience? ›
Meet the typical Dollar General customer: An older rural worker with a high school education and an income of less than $40,000. The letter F.Who did Dollar General buyout? ›
Discount retailer Dollar General will acquire 323 Dollar Express stores from private equity owner Sycamore Partners, Dollar General and Dollar Express confirmed to Retail Dive on Tuesday.How much does China owe America? ›
|Rank||Country||U.S. Treasury Holdings|
|3||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$655B|
Who owns China debt? Most of China's local government debt, one of the most regular issuers of domestic debt, is held by state-owned or state-controlled financial institutions. For decades, China's local governments have relied on off balance sheet borrowing through local government financing vehicles (LGFVs).
The U.S. makes up 23.93% of the total global economy, says Investopedia. The World Bank Group lists China as the second richest country in the world as of 2021, possessing a GDP of $17.734 trillion along with a GDP per capita of $12,556.3. China makes up 18.45% of the total global economy.What dollar store had the rat problem? ›
Dollar Tree, parent company of Family Dollar, facing criminal penalties for rat infestation. The investigation into the rat problem at a West Memphis Family Dollar warehouse has taken a new turn.Which dollar store has a rodent infestation? ›
Dollar Tree Inc. of Virginia is on notice from the FDA for the unsanitary conditions of their distribution center, including a rodent infestation. In a Nov. 8, 2022, warning letter, the FDA described a Jan.Is Dollar Tree in debt? ›
Dollar Tree long term debt for 2023 was $3.422B, a 0.13% increase from 2022. Dollar Tree long term debt for 2022 was $3.417B, a 5.91% increase from 2021.Do you really save money at Dollar General? ›
Just because an item is priced lower at the dollar store doesn't necessarily mean you're saving anything. Discount stores may offer what looks like the same product for less but they may actually be more expensive. Doing some comparison shopping before you buy can ensure that you're getting the most bang for your buck.Why are name brands cheaper at Dollar General? ›
Selling their own brands saves dollar stores money
This is because many of the brands on the shelf are the dollar store's own brands. By going the private route, dollar stores are able to have lower margins since they don't have to deal with buying from a major label brand.
Yes, the store has deals, but sometimes for more than a crisp dollar bill. In fact, Business Insider found that most items at Dollar General cost $3 to $10. Even so, shopping here can still provide the best value — and perhaps the best experience.Is Dollar Tree raising prices in 2023? ›
Throughout 2023, the company is expected to roll out $3.00 and $5.00 prices for goods in 1,800 retail stores, with most price hikes reportedly coming from the retailer's Dollar Tree Plus product expansion initiative.Is the dollar expected to stay strong? ›
Demand for dollars to stay strong
At nearly $5 trillion, it was the second highest on record. We expect the trend to continue as companies shift production closer to major consumers in response to global trade tensions. Finally, demand for the dollar as a safe haven is likely to continue as a supportive factor in 2023.
The short answer: The dollar's dominance is unlikely to change in the near future, and it will remain the principal currency of international trade and transactions, analysts told Al Jazeera. No other currency is close to replacing it.
Warren Buffett started to build up the position in Dollar General in Q2 2011 and continued to invest until Q3 2011. Since then they sold 4.5 Million shares. The investor completely sold their stake between Q1 2012 and Q3 2012.Does Warren Buffett own Dollar General stock? ›
Dollar General (NYSE: DG) isn't in Berkshire's portfolio, but it is in Markel's.Who is bigger Walmart or Dollar General? ›
Dollar General's brand is ranked #335 in the list of Global Top 1000 Brands, as rated by customers of Dollar General. Their current market cap is $48.43B. Walmart's brand is ranked #104 in the list of Global Top 1000 Brands, as rated by customers of Walmart. Their current market cap is $382.64B.Can you buy a Dollar General franchise? ›
Unfortunately, Dollar General stores are not available for franchising. All of their units are company-owned and operated, meaning that profits stay within the company and do not go to outside operators.Does Dollar General make a lot of money? ›
Dollar General annual gross profit for 2023 was $11.82B, a 9.31% increase from 2022. Dollar General annual gross profit for 2022 was $10.813B, a 0.88% increase from 2021.How rich is Dollar General? ›
Market cap: $44.61 Billion
As of May 2023 Dollar General has a market cap of $44.61 Billion. This makes Dollar General the world's 369th most valuable company by market cap according to our data.
Aldi was the least expensive grocery store and Dollar General turned out to be the most expensive. Nutritionist Dr. Jessica Soldavini explains that shoppers can still choose healthy items despite out-of-control inflation.Is Dollar General cheaper than Costco? ›
I visited Costco and Dollar General to compare prices on staple grocery items. Costco had lower prices on most items, which customers must buy in bulk. A few items were priced lower at Dollar General, including orange juice and chicken broth.How do you know if a penny is at Dollar General? ›
Where are penny items in Dollar General? You can find DG penny list items anywhere within the store. I have the best luck finding them mixed in the clearance sections. But don't skip the normal-priced areas of the store.What is Dollar General's lowest pay? ›
|Job Title:Sales Associate||Range:$7 - $12||Average:$9|
|Lead Sales Associate||Range:$8 - $13||Average:$10|
|Assistant Store Manager||Range:$10 - $15||Average:$12|
|Key Holder||Range:$8 - $13||Average:$10|
It depends on a couple factors. All employees are evaluated for a raise annually, typically during your hire anniversary month. The typical annual raise is 25 cents on the hour. If you stick with the company over the course of several years there will be a "cap" to the pay for the position you are in.What is the break policy at Dollar General? ›
1 hour for full shift. If you work over six hours you get a half hour ,7 or more hours you get hour . If you are only key holder on shift you can not leave the building.Does China own Dollar General? ›
Dollar General is not owned by China. However, the company buys a large portion of its merchandise from China. Its competitor Dollar Tree also buys a large portion of its goods from China. That's not surprising, as China is the largest supplier of low-cost goods that companies like Dollar General sell.What country owns Dollar General? ›
Dollar General Corporation is an American chain of variety stores headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. As of March 28, 2023, Dollar General operates 18,774 stores in the continental United States and Mexico.Does Dollar General have facial recognition? ›
Dollar General, Gap Inc., Macy's, Costco, and Walgreens told BuzzFeed News they do not use facial recognition software in their stores.What do the colored dots at Dollar General mean? ›
You'll see a yellow star, blue dot, etc. They use these symbols to do clearance markdowns. Look for clearance notes around the store that may have all of one symbol on 50% off clearance.What color dot are penny items at Dollar General? ›
18 penny finds at Dollar General. Look for yellow dot on clothes and clothes.What is the penny finder app? ›
Welcome to Penny Finder! Where like-minded, savings savvy, penny pinching people come to find the latest and greatest penny finds from Dollar General*!Is Dollar Tree owned by China? ›
Dollar Tree, Inc., is an American multi-price-point chain of discount variety stores. Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, it is a Fortune 500 company and operates 15,115 stores throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states and Canada.Is everything at Dollar Tree from China? ›
In this article, Doyle states that the research firm Telsey Advisory Group estimates that approximately 42 percent of the products that Dollar Tree sells are made in China. About 23 percent of what Family Dollar sells is imported merchandise, much of it from China.
Dollar General Corporation is an American chain of variety stores headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. As of March 28, 2023, Dollar General operates 18,774 stores in the continental United States and Mexico.What country owns Family Dollar? ›
Family Dollar Stores, Inc. is an American variety store chain.Does China own Walmart? ›
No, Walmart is not owned by China, nor has it been sold to a Chinese investment group. According to USA TODAY fact check, a claim that Walmart had been sold to a Chinese firm was proven false. On Jan. 2 2021, a Facebook post claimed a Chinese business group bought out America's largest retailer.What company did Dollar Tree buy out? ›
press release that announced Dollar Tree completing the acquisition of Family Dollar July 6, 2015, the merger would create combined organization with sales exceeding $19 billion annually with more than 13,600 stores across 48 states and five Canadian provinces.Who is Dollar Tree merging with? ›
New Experience. We are combining Family Dollar's trusted stores and great value with the “thrill of the hunt” and incredible finds at Dollar Tree. Two great stores… one big deal!Does Walmart sell things from China? ›
The majority of its suppliers are in the United States. However, the supply chain for Walmart stores is global, with suppliers in the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, and other countries.What is a Chinese dollar store called? ›
Miniso (simplified Chinese: 名创优品; traditional Chinese: 名創優品; pinyin: Míngchuàng Yōupǐn; Japanese Hepburn: Meisō Yūhin; stylized MINISO, メイソウ) is a Chinese low-cost retailer and variety store chain that specializes in household and consumer goods including cosmetics, stationery, toys, and kitchenware.Is Dollar Tree medicine safe? ›
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning letter to Greenbrier International, Inc., doing business as Dollar Tree, for receiving over-the-counter (OTC) drugs produced by foreign manufacturers found to have serious violations of federal law.What state has the most dollar Generals? ›
There are 19,135 Dollar General stores in the United States as of May 22, 2023. The state with the most number of Dollar General locations in the US is Texas, with 1,778 stores, which is about 9% of all Dollar General stores in the US.Is Dollar General being bought out? ›
(NYSE: DG) today announced that it has entered into an agreement to be acquired by affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. ("KKR") in a transaction with a total value of approximately $7.3 billion, including approximately $380 million of net debt.
Howard R Levine, CEO of Family Dollar Stores (FDO), Earns $1.3 mil.Why is it called Family Dollar? ›
The Levine family had a long history of entrepreneurs. Leon's father founded the Hub store in 1908, and his brother Al founded Pic-n-Pay in 1957. Leon envisioned Family Dollar as a self-service retail store marketed towards middle and lower class families with all merchandise sold for one dollar.What is Dollar General net worth? ›
Dollar General Market Cap
Dollar General has a market cap or net worth of $44.94 billion as of May 29, 2023. Its market cap has decreased by -2.47% in one year.