Local Valley Falls owners voice concerns about Dollar General

by Clarke Davis

Owners of local businesses attended the Valley Falls city council meeting Feb. 1 to express their concerns about the coming of a Dollar General store to the community.

“I’m here to ask you to do some research on what impact bringing a business like Dollar General has on a small community,” said Monica Mackison, who along with her husband, owns Steve’s Thriftway and Mac’s Grill & Pizza.

She was accompanied to the meeting by Bob Schneider, owner of Western Hardware & Auto, and Alyse Stewart of Stewart’s Hardware.

Mackison cited vendors, store owners in other communities, and trade magazines to inform the council that the net result to the community will not weigh on the positive side.

“They are going to take a little bit of the pie from all the businesses in the town and some of those businesses may not survive,” she said.

“Half of what they get from local businesses is going to come directly from the grocery store, so I believe my impact is going to be greater than anyone else’s,” she said.

Mackison expects to lose 10 to 15 percent of her sales at the outset, which she said will result in laying off at least three people.

“Please factor that in when they say how many jobs they will add,” she said. Mackison said the grocery store provides 25 full- and part-time jobs along with another dozen at the restaurant.

She said the state lost 93 grocery stores last year and named two towns where Dollar General appears to have had an effect in costing the community a full-service grocery store. The store in Lyndon was auctioned off two months ago and the one at Carbondale is considering closing, she said.

What happens, she said, is that when the store owners reach retirement age the resale value is no longer there and they wind up locking the door—thus another empty building.

Mayor Charles Stutesman told the owners that there is “not a whole lot we can do to stop it” so long as they agree to all of the city’s zoning regulations and ordinances.

Mackison said she understood the aspect of free enterprise, but on the other hand she wanted the officials aware of the situation if the corporation wants tax breaks and other things from the city.

The mayor said that in discussions with officials in Horton and Oskaloosa, Dollar General asked them for nothing and he did not anticipate them asking for anything here either.

The biggest hurdle is what they can work out with the state Department of Transportation to get a driveway off K-4 highway onto the proposed location.

The land is being purchased from Brian Lane, owner of Valley Ag Inc., just to the west or southwest of the feed store. Entrance to the store would be on the crest of a hill and curve as the highway curves more northeasterly.

The request for an entrance off K-4 along with the site plans were delivered to KDOT Thursday by city administrator Chris Channell. The state will conduct a study of the area and Channell thinks it will be two months before KDOT gives an answer.

“It will definitely hurt downtown,” Schneider said, “but it will be good for some poeple in town because it will save them some money.”

Stewart wasn’t keen on the idea when she first read about it in the newspaper, but said she did not want to be negative about it.

“It’s another business in the city and I just hope it’s a good thing,” Stewart said, but noted that there aren’t a lot of customers to take away as it is.

Mackison noted that she did not like being negative about it either — especially if they are paying the same amount of taxes, etc.

“Maybe Valley Falls will be the exception to the rule and maybe with a strong advertising campaign from all of you . . . to be sure and still shop local for some of their other things [the impact won’t be as great],” Macksion said.

Brian Lane said he saw both sides of the issue when he sold the property, but suggested that a Dollar General might be a draw for the town and the spillover will help other merchants.

He said he knew several people — mostly from the Nortonville and Effingham area — who drive to Oskaloosa to go to the Dollar General for the “nickel and dime stuff” and then go to the grocery store before going home.

Councilwoman Jo Tichenor said she and her sister, Julie Brink, will get hit at their business, Aahh Some Blossom, as well.

“It might be tough, but we are going to have to change . . . get better at our game,” Tichenor said.

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Posted by on Feb 13 2012. Filed under Government, Municipalities, Valley Falls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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