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Owning a Dollar Store

In its purest form, a dollar (or 99 cent) store only carries items that cost exactly that much. Some of these stores, nonetheless, do not adhere strictly to that pricing policy, but still feature an array of inexpensive, everyday items. As traditional five and tens (five and dimes) disappear, dollar stores fill much of the same retailing niche.

In general, there are two principal strategies for stocking a dollar store, which are not mutually exclusive:

  • A stable lineup of useful yet inexpensive products, in categories that are not well served by other retailers in the area. For example, with the demise of old-style five and tens, sewing needles and thread are often hard to find.
  • A constantly changing array of overstock and closeout items, sold at deep discounts. You look to develop a steady clientele of determined bargain hunters who visit on a regular basis just to see what deals they can get.

There are also two main approaches to store layout:

  • Aisles that expedite customers’ finding and purchasing what they want, assuming that they enter the store looking for specific items.
  • Forcing customers along a path from entrance to cash registers that winds its way by everything, or nearly everything, in the store. This design spurs impulse purchases, and is particularly effective in a store that features closeouts and overstocks.

Other considerations include:

  • Potential customers often are put off by the reputation of dollar stores for seediness. You would do well to be sure that your store is bright, clean, and neat.
  • Seek a location in a busy shopping center or retail district. Attracting customers to an isolated store may be difficult, given the nature of your merchandise.
  • Before even considering opening your dollar store, conduct an extensive survey of other retailers in your area, noting what they do or do not offer in the realm of inexpensive, everyday items.

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