Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Dollar General is not Cool

The other night, my wife and I attended a community meeting that was organized to tell us all about the wonderful new development in the offing for our tiny town of Cool. The builder was visiting from the San Diego area to show us the site plans and artist’s renditions of a spanking-new … Dollar General!

We learned a lot about our neighbors. For one thing, like us, they don’t want a Dollar General in their town. A town just up the road rejected one a couple of years ago, so we all pretty much tore the developer a new one as he tried to explain the terrific design features he’d worked into the project, having come up earlier to take Cool’s measure. Gooseneck lighting! State-of-the-art septic!

We also learned, about our neighbors, that by and large they’re not much like us in most other respects. Most of them, it seems, have lived here a long time. They still speak of the twenty-year old shopping plaza at the crossroads as “that new store.” And they don’t like it because it’s kind of modern. Doesn’t complement the “old” downtown, which looks like a movie set from a John Ford flick.

The developer learned, I hope, that nobody, absolutely nobody wants a goddamn Dollar General in this place, but what everybody learned, because a couple of people from county government were there too, is that we’re going to be getting one anyway. Short of some kind of environmental problem with the site (and there doesn’t appear to be one, as there was for the nearby town that fought Dollar General and won), there’s no way to stop it. The guy from the planning commission said the words “property rights” in tones not different from the way a priest says “Dominus vobiscum.”

He meant the developer’s property rights.

So whether we like it or not (and like I said, we tore the guy a new one making it clear we don’t like it one bit), in a year or two the first thing people will see as they drive up Hwy. 49 from Auburn is a Dollar General store. Cool will be seen as a Dollar General town.

I’ll never set foot in it. Dollar General is a parasite, and it sells cheap shit from China to customers it considers rubes (demographically). Who wouldn’t resent that? (The developer, to soften the blow, said that Dollar General saw us as “underserved.”)

No thanks. I’ll drive across the canyon and spend my money at Target, thank you very much. A cut above.

For now, I’m off to St. Louis today to see my mom, who turns 84 on Friday. That’ll take my mind off this capitalist effrontery!

[Photo via Pixabay.]

8 comments on “Dollar General is not Cool

  1. kingmidget
    October 2, 2019

    You Coolians are battling the inevitability of American commercialism.

  2. TamrahJo
    October 2, 2019

    Um…IF your ‘neighborhood’ targeted as viable position for opening one? Problems exist somewhere that is maybe not on collective town folks talking about/addressing radar – zoning issues, election of those now in power issues, land rights, etc. That said – yup – don’t buy/step foot in if you choose too – remember they are hoping to staff the joint with folks so grateful to have a job, they’ll put up with all kinds of wonky schedules, pay schedules, etc., so IF you really want to impact on your side of equation, seek out those who might, through necessity, but willing to work for a paycheck, in community that can be hired, gifted too, or have their tiny indie biz supported that meets needed local goods and service needs – – Share on sale bounty or garden surplus with the senior citizens in the area who live off of retirement funds that may/may not have gotten screwed by changes to a system they paid into for many, many years – – etc., etc., etc. There are always ways a community can, even in face of low census/tax base reported ‘income’ levels to keep the target off their back as being seen as opportunity by those who profit off the misery of others – but usually? once these folks show up in a neighborhood? either some secret, not known before, resources has recentlly come to light, below ground OR things in community have been out of whack for awhile and in need of addressing by someone – somewhere… Just my two cents – and based off my personal past experience living in communities that fought and blocked before ever granted rights to build and those communities who ‘woke up/galvanized’ took action too late – to begin with, but have, in some instances, spent 5-10 years making sure nothing like ‘that’ ever happens again – — 😀

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 7, 2019

      Thanks for this. Gives me some hope that local activism might be able to have an effect, even though we’re basically fighting the county more than Dollar General. Since our town is unincorporated, it’s the county’s zoning regs and processes that we’re going to have to beat. Plus it’s possible that we spooked the builder that night too! That was one hostile crowd. 😉

      • TamrahJo
        October 7, 2019

        When slumlords and targeted by poverty level operations show up – it means stuff at infrastructure level in need of change/action – hostile crowd/community uproar is good start – the crowd holds many who keep up with one or more topics affecting complex challenge/solutions “for fun/because they are passionate’ and by gathering, meeting together, everyone gains network of ‘early alert/warning’ system that is local shared perspective based – information without giving your entire life over to just tracking it all – is what makes it possible for locals to truly take part in fashioning the future of their neighborhood – Strength in numbers! 😀

      • TamrahJo
        October 7, 2019

        P.S. – Those who CAN attend meetings/be instrumental in info network should check in with the ill, elderly, poverty level/underemployed/working two+ jobs and can’t make meetings folks in their neighborhood grid – to keep them informed and get their insights on what ‘underserved’/low income/transportation options means for their options to ‘needed goods/services’ – :D. But that’s my little focus – 😀

  3. pinklightsabre
    October 3, 2019

    Have a great visit with your mom! No, “underserved” wouldn’t sit well with me either. I remember a version of Dollar General in Inverness and it was called Pound Land.

  4. cinthiaritchie
    October 15, 2019

    Well, it looks as if Target isn’t so great either, at least not the way they hire and pay their employees: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/14/business/target-cutting-hours-wage-increase/index.html
    So damned sad, really. So many people struggling, which is why there are so many Dollar General stores to begin with. I don’t know if there’s an easy answer. I realize that dollar stores squeeze out grocery and mom and pop stores that carry fresh produce and healthier foods, but the truth of the matter is that if you only have a few dollars and need to feed your family, a box of cheapo mac & cheese will fill their bellies more than carrots or spinach. The problem is deeper than this store or that. It’s our economy. In a way, it’s all of us, at least those of us with the luxury (and it is a luxury) of steady paychecks, sick and vacation leave, and health care.

    • TamrahJo
      October 15, 2019

      I agree – until things get so bad many are affected (think Great Depression) it will continue to be seen as a problem of the ‘lazy, unmotivated’ whatever – but so many ‘party followers’ are already gearing up to talk about unemployment and that’s not the numbers to be looking at, really, I believe, though I’m no economist. I think the underemployment numbers and the rising costs of housing and medical services are the main precursors to watch – and they continue to worsen – at least they are getting bad enough more folks are paying attention to them now than they were even just 2 years ago – :). No easy answers, but their is still a cultural story that ‘anyone’ can make it and that is just not so – no matter how hard you work.

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