They have spread across America like kudzu across Mississippi, so much so that Trish Berry of Indianola says “you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one in the Delta.”
Large cities, small towns and rural America are infected with them enough that Martha Foose of Pluto, Mississippi, says her family plays road trip games where the winner is the person first to salute one when they pass one on the road.
So, what’s growing faster than weeds in a Spring garden?
It’s Dollar General, and one of the corporate leaders at the helm of the company’s growth is Ole Miss alum, Rex Martin, vice-president, real estate, who lives in Brentwood, Tennessee. Martin graduated from Ole Miss in 1987 with a degree in Finance.
Martin says he is proud to be a Rebel and was involved in the site selections for the latest Oxford Dollar General stores.
Dollar General has more or less slipped under the radar and blanketed the nation with 13,601 stores as of May 5, 2017, up almost 1,000 stores from 2015. Some say the growth has been at the expense of big box stores, especially Wal-Mart, which has launched Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets, a small-store concept that has grown nearly as fast.
Headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, the company has 90,000 employees, and if one could count products in the six Oxford area stores, there might be just as many different items of merchandise on the shelves.
Oxford has three stores: a store on Highway 7 South, stores on North Lamar, and stores on University Ave. in Eastgate Shopping Center. There is a store under construction on Highway 30 near Little John’s Grocery and one is now under construction at the corner of Old Sardis Road near Western Hills subdivision, and construction is moving fast. There was construction work going on at this location when HottyToddy.com passed by on Friday evening, July 7 at 5:45 p.m. (see photos/video)
And it seems almost everyone shops Dollar General at one time or another. The chain had revenues of over $20 billion in 2016, with a net profit of 5.7%.
Nicole Bryan of Oxford shops Dollar General “3-5 times a week on Highway 7 because it is close to my house in the country,” she said.
“Sodas, snacks, coffee, household items–whatever we run out of and don’t feel like going all the way uptown [for],” Bryan said.
Kate Asbury Larkin, an Ole Miss alum living in Opelika, Alabama, says she shops almost exclusively at Dollar General. “Already been there today,” Larkin said. “There are 14 stores within 15 miles of my house, and I love ’em!”
“It is so nice to jump into the car and drive a minute or two if you are out of a needed item! So nice to not have to drive all the way into town– and you do not stand in long lines while 8-10 [lines] are closed,” Dena Priddy McCay of Crenshaw said. “You are rung up and out the door with a smile.”
Families shop at Dollar General for different reasons, but usually convenience, price and location are factors most often mentioned.
We asked readers of HottyToddy.com on Facebook about Dollar General, and the discussion was just about as fierce as talk of an Ole Miss win over Alabama. Over 95 readers responded with their thoughts in a matter of hours.
Virtually all of our readers love to shop at “DG,” as the stores are frequently called. The DG brand is now used for store brands and the Dollar General logo. The traditional store is being complimented by two new concept stores, called DGX, which will open in Nashville and Raleigh this year. Designed to appeal to millennials, these urban-based stores are not typical of the DG shopped by most. The artist’s vision for the Raleigh DGX is open and very modern in design.
Many readers say they shop DG because it is “quick in and out, and they can avoid the long lines at Wal-Mart.” Some complain, however, that units are under staffed and the aisles are congested with merchandise that needs to be restocked.
“They sure get messy around here–you’ll break your neck in the one around here; stuff sitting everywhere,” Brenda Bell Houston said.
Ann Mason of Oxford agrees the clutter is concerning, “the one up north always has merchandise to put in the aisles.”
“I think they are brilliant for hitting the outer limits of cities but, yes, I have seen problems where different stores were a complete wreck with boxes everywhere,” Desiree Dawn Andrews of Water Valley said. “They need closer micromanagement, but the strategy is really brilliant.”
However, not all readers see their DG as messy. “Dollar General stores up here are nice and clean,” writes Albert Winters, a Mississippian who now lives in Henderson, Kentucky.
Despite the criticisms, people responding to HottyToddy.com’s inquiry love to shop at DG. Suanne Strider of Oxford said she loves it and Jim McIngvale, an Ole Miss grad originally from Batesville and now an executive at Ingalls in Pascagoula simply says “always.”
Barbara Coleman of Oxford agrees, “Love to shop Dollar General. You can get in and find your items and get out without any problems.”
Elizabeth Muse White of Cotton Plant, Mississippi, shops DG often and notes, “they have expanded their products so much in recent years. I like Dollar General.”
Debbie Woodrick Hall said she has a friend in real estate in Arkansas and “every time she lists land, she calls Dollar General.”
The phenomenal growth has not escaped the attention of financial journalists like Terry Wooten, a Pontotoc native and Ole Miss journalism grad, who said, “I refuse to talk about DG. I failed to buy the stock at under $15 several years ago. Like to shop there though,” he added.
DG stock was selling at around $70.23 a share on the New York Stock Exchange as of July 7, 2017. It has split 11 times since 1992 when it had a five for four split. The first store in Oxford opened in 1995.
“It is a great feeling for normal, everyday people to be able to walk into a store and afford anything in the store. It’s fast, clean, and you don’t have to park 100 yards away,” says Todd Windham of Oxford.
There are 380 Dollar General stores and counting in Mississippi. If kudzu is the king of fast growth in Mississippi, Dollar General is queen of small store concepts in our state and across America.
Jim Roberts is a contributor for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached HERE.Sign up to receive Hottytoddy.com morning and evening headline emails HERE!