The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 4, 2013

Dollar General says two stores will work

Conneaut’s new stores are less than three miles apart

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Local fans of Dollar General, already tickled with the recent grand opening of a new store on Conneaut’s west side, will be downright giddy when a second location throws open its doors before the end of the year.

Late last month, the retailer took the wraps off a store at 280 W. Main Road (Route 20) just as girders were being fitted into place on another Dollar General at the corner of State and Washington streets. The second store is expected to greet shoppers sometime in late October or November, weather permitting, said Crystal Ghassemi, Dollar General spokeswoman.

Can two brand-new, similarly-sized stores carrying essentially the same products succeed in a town the size of Conneaut? Absolutely, Ghassemi said Tuesday. Plenty of market research and study precedes every store location decision, she said.

“There’s a process we go through,” she said. “Our real estate companies look at a number of factors. They do their due diligence.”

Dollar General is closing in on 11,000 stores in nearly every state in America, and that experience gives the corporation plenty of insight into its core customer base, Ghassemi said. The company knows the shopping habits of small town America, locating about 70 percent of its stores in communities with populations of 20,000 people or less, she said.

The typical Dollar General customer puts a high premium on convenience, Ghassemi said. As a result, Dollar General strives to place its stores no more than a five or 10-minute drive from their customers’ front doors, Ghassemi said.

“That’s about a three to five mile radius,” she said.

In Conneaut, less than three miles will separate the new stores. However, because research has shown short drive times are so important to customers, the two stores shouldn’t steal business from one another, Ghassemi said.

The downtown store is considered a replacement and not a start-up, Ghassemi said. A Dollar General that has operated for years from a storefront on Main Street will close when its big brother — located just a few steps away — opens this fall.

The newcomer will dwarf the original in size, measuring 7,200 square feet compared to the 4,400 square feet found in the storefront, Ghassemi said.

Each store has a different developer, which has resulted in staggered start times for construction. The West Main Road location broke ground in late April, while the downtown spot was launched a few weeks ago with the demolition of a handful of buildings in the State-Harbor-Washington streets neighborhood.

A start to the downtown store was also delayed somewhat by improvements to the exterior requested by city officials. The store will have a facade that mirrors somewhat the appearance of other buildings in the neighborhood.

On Saturday, Dollar General will commemorate the opening of the West Main Road store with special deals and giveaways to early-bird shoppers, according to a statement.