By Sharyn Cornelius
Dollar General’s arrival in Palo Cedro this fall was somewhat controversial, with over 1000 residents signing a petition declaring the Texas-based corporate giant with its garish yellow signs was not welcome here. But the corporation’s development company had found a willing seller of property that was already zoned commercial at the corner of Deschutes Road and Old Forty-four Drive, so residents had no chance to express their displeasure to the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors since no zoning change was needed.
The Planning Division required Dollar General to wrap its metal building in cement blocks and preserve a few of the old oak trees on the property, but they also allowed them to construct a drainage swale over the roots of the largest tree, which will almost certainly cause it to die.
I have to admit that I was prepared not to like this store which shouldered its way into our small, rural community over residents’ objections, but what I found when I finally got around to visiting it on Nov. 28 was an appealing combination of old-style variety store (think Woolworth’s or Sprouse Reitz) and a pumped-up mini-mart for groceries (about one third of the total floor space). The staff on duty that Saturday afternoon was friendly and welcoming, greeting each customer as he or she came in.
Though the aisles are narrow (the clerk I spoke with assured me they would not be cluttered with a lot of free-standing displays), the entrance is roomy and lined with familiar national brands. The display stands are clearly marked on each end. The amount of stock on the shelves varies from plentiful (housecleaning, health/personal and infant care products) to meager (clothing, hardware, home décor). The staff was hard at work on the store’s Christmas display shelves.
Since my purpose was merely to survey Dollar General’s merchandise and report what is available, I did not bring Wal-Mart or Holiday Market receipts to compare prices, nor did I check “use by” dates, though I will do both before deciding whether to shop there.
In an effort to bring first time customers back, the cashiers were issuing coupons worth $5 off a $25 purchase next Saturday, Dec. 5.