The Wall Street Journal has a long story this morning about Dollar General, using a rural Tennessee store as an example of what the format sells - no fresh meat, no fresh produce, but with a selection that ranges from “shower curtains to breakfast cereal, toilet paper, plastic toys and camouflage-pattern socks. Refrigerators and freezers on one wall hold milk, eggs and frozen pizza.
Many items are sold in mini bottles or small bags, keeping costs lower than a trip to the Wal-Mart Supercenter down the road. The two registers are staffed by one cashier, except during rush hours after school and after work.”

The store is very successful, as is the chain, which is growing “because rural America is struggling. With its convenient locations for frugal shoppers, it has become one of the most profitable retailers in the U.S. and a lifeline for lower-income customers bypassed by other major chains.”

The story goes on: “Dollar General Corp.’s 14,000 stores yielded more than double the profit of Macy’s Inc. on less revenue during its most recent fiscal year. And its $22 billion market value eclipses the largest U.S. grocery chain, Kroger Co., which has five times the revenue.

“The retailer relies on rapid store openings to keep revenue climbing and investors happy; 2016 marked its 27th consecutive year of sales growth in stores open at least a year.

“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.”

KC's View: Important to remember, especially for those of us who live in urban and suburban markets with different issues, that there is another America where people feel left behind, or where the nation’s promises have gone unfulfilled. Tapping into that market can be a powerful business model.