The dollar store business in Southwest Virginia is booming.
In March, Roanoke Times retail reporter and blogger Amanda Codispoti reported that between March and April, three new dollar stores were opening in Roanoke alone: one Dollar Tree and two Family Dollar locations. A Dollar General location is also set to open by the end of the year in southeast Roanoke. These are the three major dollar store chains in our area, and it seems everyone has his or her favorite.
When I asked readers on my Shoptimist blog about their preferences, many mentioned that store cleanliness, helpful associates and specific brands kept them coming back to certain stores.
More than 310 readers voted in my poll asking which dollar store is their favorite, and more than 50 percent voted for Dollar Tree. Dollar General followed closely behind with around 39 percent of the vote. About 6 percent said they don’t shop at dollar stores — a total that’s more than the 3.9 percent who said they prefer Family Dollar.
Dollar Tree is the closest store to my home, so I shop there the most out of convenience. It’s my go-to store for wrapping paper and bows, as well as seasonal decorations. I’ve also found some great items in the food department, like brand-name frozen vegetables, candies, salty snacks and bread. It’s also easy to get items for free or nearly free with the use of coupons.
I also like stopping by a Dollar General Market, which has a great selection of produce, seasonal items and party supplies, but the closest one is in Troutville.
What readers like
There are approximately 20 Dollar Tree locations in and bordering the Roanoke and New River valleys, and more than 40 Dollar General locations. Family Dollar has only 15 local retailers, a possible reason why it has fewer fans.
Blog commenter Beth is a Dollar Tree fan. She wrote, “I particularly like the stores that have frozen food sections and carry the Nature’s Own bread products. The bread products are such a great deal. I love that I can get bread products without high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors at such a bargain price! Especially now that the Dollar Tree takes coupons, I find myself shopping there more and more!”
Jbx2 echoed her response, writing, “Dollar Tree gets my vote! Greeting cards, gift bags, wrapping paper all for a dollar. I also get makeup pads, cotton balls there. And I helped with a wedding where we used dollar store wine glasses as part of the centerpiece. They were super nice and looked great. More recently I bought some storage containers to be used in a closet. The same type of product sells at Target for around $8. They look great and hold everything perfectly.”
Dollar General received some positive feedback as well.
Jeffrey wrote, “Dollar General has my vote, especially the Dollar General Markets. You can get just about anything you need in there.”
Besides the Dollar General Market in Troutville, there’s also one in Christiansburg. These stores have the same policies as regular Dollar General stores but have an expanded grocery section and are larger overall.
Blog reader Kathy has grown to appreciate Dollar General stores all over the country. She wrote, “When we RV’d across the country 3-4 [years] ago we always managed to find one to buy canned goods, bread, cereal, etc. at good deals. Hubby even got a nice camouflage thermal shirt there last year!”
What’s the difference?
Dollar Tree is the only local dollar store where most everything in stores is actually $1, or sometimes less. The biggest drawback to these low prices is that all sales are final and no refunds are issued, unlike at the two other retailers. The store does allow exchanges on everything except seasonal items.
Though each retailer has an online presence, Family Dollar does not offer online shopping. Dollar Tree requires bulk purchases for online orders, but also offers free in-store pick-up on qualifying products. Dollar General doesn’t require bulk purchases and offers free shipping on orders more than $25.
All three retailers carry select brand names and accept manufacturer coupons, though Family Dollar and Dollar General also offer store coupons that can be printed from their websites and found in print ads.
These store coupons can be stacked with manufacturer coupons for double savings; however Family Dollar does not accept coupons on sale or clearance items. However, Family Dollar shoppers can use mobile coupons that can be accessed via text message or smartphone browsers.
Dollar Tree started accepting coupons in the past year, and has begun adding more products to its aisles, including clothes, fresh produce, frozen foods and more.
Each retailer accepts printable Internet coupons (like those on Coupons.com), though Dollar Tree limits Internet coupons to two per household, per day.
For readers who aren’t dollar store shoppers, I hope you’ll give them a chance. Start by browsing the Dollar General or Family Dollar ads in newspapers and online. This is a convenient way to compare prices and get a taste of where you could be saving.
I also suggest you stop in various stores from time to time. The merchandise is constantly changing, so you may find something on a second visit.
Do you agree with the results of the poll? If you don’t shop at dollar stores, what’s the reason?