Editorial: Back again, Dollar General picks new site

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The year is 2022.

The world is still in the middle of a global pandemic that has claimed hundreds of local lives and emerged as a major cause of death in the previous two years. Inflation has reached new heights, creating additional struggles to find affordable housing and pay for everyday items. The country also feels as if it’s of the precipice of another military conflict, with Russia threatening to invade Ukraine and draw in the United States.

Yet, something familiar has emerged with the start of a new year.

“I am inevitable,” Dollar General would say if it could talk.

Developers hope to build a new concept of the store adjacent to Ivan’s Restaurant on Old Mocksville Road. The store received approval from the Salisbury Planning Board, but it will require the Salisbury City Council’s OK to move forward. Because of a quirk in zoning boundaries, Salisbury gets the final say rather than county commissioners even though the site is outside of the city limits.

The stores attract opposition partly because there are just so many of them and they are a national, publicly traded company taking on the roles of traditional mom-and-pop general stores. Because Dollar Generals aim to provide the same services as an average mom-and-pop store, the sheer number of them make sense for its business model. And there are enough customers who view it the same way to make new stores worthwhile.

But Dollar General stores cannot develop the same connections to communities that make local stores much-loved even if they sell fresh produce. Just imagine a Dollar General instead of McLaughlin’s Grocery in the West End or Variety Produce in Rockwell.

No thanks.

A locally owned general store next to Ivan’s would get a much warmer reception, regardless of whether the new Dollar General will feature fresh produce. But it will be hard for the Salisbury City Council to turn away the store because of its brand. Opponents will need to prove the store is uniquely harmful to the quality of life and/or at odds with basic zoning rules.