Lots of talk today about a Wall Street Journal interview with the CEO of Dollar General, Todd Vasos, on how well his chain of low-cost small stores is doing.
The reason is depressing: The company targets people making less than $40,000 and their number is increasing.
While many large retailers are closing locations, Dollar General executives said they planned to build thousands more stores, mostly in small communities that have otherwise shown few signs of the U.S. economic recovery.
The more the rural U.S. struggles, company officials said, the more places Dollar General has found to prosper. “The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,” Chief Executive Todd Vasos said in an interview at the company’s Goodlettsville, Tenn., headquarters.
“We are putting stores today [in areas] that perhaps five years ago were just on the cusp of probably not being our demographic,” he said, “and it has now turned to being our demographic.”
It occurs to me that the Dollar General economy could be a partial explanation for why Arkansas revenue is not exactly robust despite a long run of historic low unemployment. Plenty of people are working, but many of them are working part-time or for low wages. Walmart meanwhile is closing some of its stores, while Dollar General, Family Dollar and the like seem to be popping up all over, stocked with smaller, and thus more seemingly affordable (but not cheaper by unit), packages of name-brand goods.