Friday, 23 October 2020

Slooten: Dollar General not compatible with vision for Clearlake

Is a Dollar General store in Clearlake compatible with our vision for the city of Clearlake?

I would argue that it is not compatible with my vision for the city of Clearlake; there are several reasons:

It will take business away from the local nearby mom and pop stores – just ask Gary Nylander from the Red and White Store in the Oaks. They have always invested in the social fabric of the community; Dollar General will not. Their profits do not stay in the county or city.

The Dollar General business model is such that they build their stores in low-income areas, hire one full-time manager and the rest of the employees are part-time at minimum wage, and there are horror stories of employee exploitation.

A comment of a Dollar General manager is “they pay you for 48 hours but say you’re not owning your business unless you work 60-plus hours.”

They will sell the store to outside investors with no local commitment to the welfare of the community.

They will concentrate several stores in a certain area hoping to ward off bigger stores, that will certainly put a stop to new investments of local business owners with more ambitious plans for our city.

We could possibly lose the chance of a new shopping center at the airport property.

Other communities in the county have rejected Dollar General for all the right reasons. Family-owned grocery stores operate at thin margins and Dollar General stores can pressure them with sometimes lower prices. Most Dollar General stores do not carry fresh groceries; they offer the same household products and general essentials, which are the highest margin items.

So when Dollar General takes that business away from the local grocer, you are left with no mom and pop stores that sell fresh groceries in economically depressed areas.

Other complaints that will arrive from the Dollar General store is an increase in crime and loitering around the store. The design of the store is the cookie-cutter approach with an unattractive exterior and obtrusive signage.

It is clear to me that we do not want a Dollar General store in our city.

Dirk C. Slooten is vice mayor of the city of Clearlake, California.

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