Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fighting "dollar stores" in Vermont, and losing

Vermont towns' battles against big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target are generally well-known, and have been the subject of earlier blog posts like this one.  Now the New York Times is reporting on a new retail scourge, chain dollar stores like those under the brands Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.   The dateline is Chester, Vermont, and Abby Goodnough reports here that the historic town known for its stone buildings is about to get its very own Dollar General, just down the street from the town common.  Because these stores tend to have much smaller footprints--the one in Chester will be 9,100 square feet--than big box stores, they are much less likely to run afoul of local zoning regulations.  The town's Development Review Board imposed 35 conditions on the Dollar General, including the requirement that the store have clapboard siding and that shopping carts be kept inside.  Here's an excerpt from the story:
[O]pponents [of the store] say that the Dollar General, which has opened 15 stores in Vermont in recent years, including one in Springfield, less than eight miles away, will be the beginning of the end for what might best be described as Chester's Vermontiness.  They theorize that second-home owners will abandon the town rather than abide a discount chain store, tourists in search of a bucolic escape will avoid it and Lisai's Market, the beloved local grocery store, will be forced out of business.   
"People come here and stay at the inns and eat at the restaurants not because we have Disney World but because we have Chester," said Claudio Veliz, an architect who moved here from New York.  "That is the hull of our boat, and Dollar General wants to put a fist through the hull."  
The population of Chester (a Census Designated Place) is 1,005 according to the Census Bureau's State and County Quick Facts, but wikipedia lists Chester's population as 3,044, and State and County Quick Facts lists the town's population as 3,154.  It is in nonmetropolitan Windsor County, which has a population of 56,670.


Chester Telegraph said...

Here are the original stories about the Dollar General issue in Chester Vermont, written for The Chester Telegraph.

Chester Telegraph said...

You can a slew of stories on the issue in Chester, Vermont, dating back to August of 2011 at www.chestertelegraph.org

Taylor Call said...

The opponents of the Dollar General might be over-reacting a little. It is hard to imagine second-home owners would leave the town and tourists would avoid it because of a dollar store. However, the "beloved" store might have to change how it does business in order compete with lower prices. Just because a store is beloved does not mean it should be free from competition.