Tag: dollar stores

Steven Malanga joins Seth Barron to discuss efforts to restrict dollar stores in cities across the country—the subject of Malanga’s popular story for City Journal, “Unjust Deserts.”

For nearly 20 years, “food deserts”—neighborhoods without supermarkets—have captured the attention of public officials, activists, and the media, who often blame the situation on dollar-discount stores in these areas. These stores, it’s claimed, drive out supermarkets with their low prices and saturate poor neighborhoods with junk food. But are dollar stores really to blame for bad diets?

99 Cent Answer to ‘Food Deserts’

 

Who really is in touch with the poor, the Fort Worth mayor and city council or the 99 Cent Only CEO? The Fort Worth city council is moving down the tracks towards imposing limitations on low-cost stores, generally labeled “dollar stores.” They are doing so for two stated reasons: blight and “food deserts.” Any citizen can refute the second claim by a simple internet search. Any citizen living in the area could do the media and their own city council’s job, by simply walking through a 99 Cents Only store with their phone camera rolling in video mode.*

The very deepest discount stores operate like every other business that is not in bed with the government. That is, they identify locations where they can sell enough goods to make a profit. By definition, a dollar store is operating on the very thinnest of margins, so they have to consistently offer the stuff people want. Happily, this results in at least one such business offering the very items we are perennially told are being denied to the poorest among us.

The Dollar Tree store chain fills smaller retail spaces in older strip mall retail properties. It is also more than just a place to grab some paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils for a party. Many of these stores include a frozen and refrigerated food section. The frozen section always stocks vegetables and fruit, in addition to frozen prepared foods. The grocery aisle always includes rice, beans, dried pasta, canned tomato products and more. In short, you can put together nutritious meals from that small store, which you can get in and out of much more quickly than a supermarket.