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Dollar store deluge
Tulare County is seeing dollar signs — literally.
The popular small-box “dollar stores,” Family Dollar and Dollar General, plan to open several stores in both the rural and incorporated communities of the county and are quickly adding up.
In the South County, permits have been issued for the construction of a Family Dollar store on Avenue 96, east of Highway 65 in the agricultural town of Terra Bella. A “Coming Soon” sign at the store’s future location states the store will be built by Florida-based BOOS Development Group.
In Porterville, plans have been submitted for a Family Dollar store in the Vallarta Supermarket shopping center on Plano Street. Brad Dunlap, the city’s community development director, said the store is expected to move into the former Tulare County Mental Health building, which is currently vacant.
Dunlap said plans for a second Dollar General store on Plano Street and Date Avenue were pulled or “delayed indefinitely” and said he didn’t know why.
He commented on the “dollar stores’” expansion into rural areas of the county.
“I know these two companies that we’re seeing activity from over the last couple of years have been in the process of expanding into California, both with pretty aggressive approaches,” he said. “I think they are very accustomed to operating in rural markets, in the Midwest in particular, and trying to provide a service to people located in those neighborhoods.”
Dunlap said he thinks it’s a picture of private enterprise.
“If you look at the number, I would question whether or not the market can support multiple stores from each operator, in light of the stores that are already in place in Porterville,” he said. “The current trend in these dollar stores is sort of what happened over the last few years with the drug stores; the battle to get into the market with Walgreens and CVS. I think we’ll watch and see if all or a portion of them survive over time.”
Dunlap noted that when the local Longs Drugs was purchased by CVS, the pharmacy was closing a newly-developed Longs in downtown Porterville. Now, he said, there’s a reuse issue for buildings that are left vacant, “when the dust settled,” he said.
In Lindsay, plans for a Family Dollar on the southeast corner of Mariposa Street and Highway 65 are on the horizon. Plans for a Dollar General store on the southwest corner of Hermosa Street and Mirage Avenue in downtown Lindsay have been tabled due to concerns raised by the applicant over having to litigate the project, said Lindsay City Planner Bill Zigler.
Still, Zigler said he thinks the likelihood of the store coming is high and said he thinks the arrival of “dollar stores” to the small community is a positive.
“I think that they are seeing an opportunity in secondary markets. They probably couldn’t compete very effectively in major urban areas, unlike in unincorporated areas and smaller Valley towns whose demographics would support making purchases in dollar stores,” Zigler said.
Zigler said he sees it as an opportunity for job creation and business investment.
“In at least two of these instances, they’re going to be developing property,” he said.
“Lindsay has been in an economic slump for quite some years and we would anticipate Dollar General being in excess of a $1 million construction project. That’s a big deal to bring something to downtown which is where you would like to focus commercial business growth.”
Zigler said a national chain is more likely to last than a mom and pop shop that comes in and sells second-hand goods. He added that the “dollar stores’” biggest impacts to the community would likely be to mini-marts.
“We have 13 in Lindsay and in a city with under 12,000 people, they’re serving the dollar store purpose,” he said.
He said the “dollar stores’” arrival may raise the bar and spur business investment.
Family Dollar has also pulled permits for the construction of another store in the rural town of Ivanhoe.
Dollar General currently has a store open in Porterville and plans to open others in Farmersville, Visalia, and Tulare.
Earlier this year, the company announced it would open 635 new stores, relocate 550, and create approximately 6,000 new jobs in 2013.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.