Dollar Store Mania
Even Luxury Customers Have Headed to the Inexpensive Retailers
Economic fears and a weakening dollar have some people worried about how far
their money can stretch, even beyond the holiday season. Some are ditching big
discount chains in favor of the dollar store, where -- as the name implies --
many items are discounted deeply.
The stores have moved from the retail sideline and into the mainstream, as
buyers find they can purchase more with their dollar at the niche stores.
For Meg Howard of Highland Heights, Ky., the store has helped her shopping
addiction because she doesn't break the bank when dishing out her bucks.
"They call me the dollar-store queen. I don't have my tiara on, but I am a
queen," Howard said. "You know it is a bargain at the dollar store."
Howard hits her local dollar store a few times a week and finds deals on
everything from cleaning supplies to clothes and greeting cards. She has even
begun training her grandchildren on the benefits of shopping at dollar stores.
Howard is not alone in her affinity for inexpensive retailers. Since 2000, the
percent of households shopping at dollar stores nearly has doubled, according to
the National Retail Federation.
"The dollar store industry has grown dramatically over the last five years,"
said National Retail Federation president Dan Butler.
Much of the growth has been fueled by the major dollar store chains, which now
make up five of the nation's top 10 mass merchandisers and have more than 18,000
stores nationwide with more than $36 billion in annual sales.
Part of the stores' secret is that the dollar stores keep prices low by
purchasing a variety of overstocked, liquidated, discounted or discontinued
products, including many name brands.
The stores have begun expanding into new areas and even suburbia has caught on,
changing the profile of the typical dollar store shopper.
"In today's economy, we see that same customer that may shop in a luxury outlet
or a luxury store might also shop at a dollar store," Butler said.
Alex Derhovhannessian makes six figures at a major consulting firm, but still
does much of his shopping at dollar stores.
"[It] doesn't matter how much money you make," the 32-year-old said. "If I could
save $5, $10, $15 a week, that's $5 or $10 more I have to spend on myself, my
family, or my loved ones."
While dollar stores may not be as chic as other retailers, Derhovhannessian is
trying to convert others to his new passion.
"With my friends, I have taken a little bit of ribbing," he said. "But I think
once they see the types of things you can get at the dollar stores and that you
don't have to sacrifice quality for cost, I think many of them have bought into
the idea of shopping at the dollar store."
And Howard said there are keys to shopping at the dollar store.
"Know what you want to buy," Howard said. "Know what the prices are at the
regular stores like at Wal-Mart or Kroger, or know what the prices are, and then
when you go in you can compare."