Updated: Oct 4
"In the latest struggle between Main Street and corporate America, grocers say the rapidly-expanding chains of Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar have effectively forced them out of business, thereby reducing options for fresh food and produce for miles around."
DeKalb County, GA – On December 8, 2019 Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson joined a national conversation on the rapid growth of dollar stores across the United States on CBS Sunday Morning. Interviewed by National Public Radio Correspondent and CBS Sunday Morning Special Contributor Allison Aubrey, the nationally televised piece featured commentary, business owners and case studies from across the United States while discussing the impact of dollar stores on American communities. The CBS report featured areas including Moville, Iowa and DeKalb County, Georgia and discussed the impact of dollar stores on local grocers.
Communities hardest hit by dollar stores often find themselves driving 30 minutes for fresh produce after local grocers close their doors in the wake of the presence of dollar store expansion. Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill said dollar stores are killing America and warns consumers to stay away from the sugar, soda, and processed food high in fat and salt typically sold in dollar stores.
“[Dollar stores] increase the risk of heart disease, mortality, cancer mortality, diabetes, obesity– this is the worse food that can bought,” said Popkin. “It’s adding to the health crisis that lower-income America faces – and that’s black, Hispanic, and white America.”
According to Commissioner Cochran-Johnson, 25% of DeKalb County lives in a “food desert” or area with limited access to supermarkets.
“Dollar stores tend to highly saturate areas,” Cochran-Johnson stated during the segment. “When you look at the pattern of growth of the Dollar Store, as well as the areas that have the highest levels of obesity, hypertension, and high blood pressure, there is a direct correlation between their presence and poor health. We see it in the data.”
Currently DeKalb County has a total of sixty-eight dollar stores with two in District 1; three in District 2; twenty-seven in District 3; twenty-three in District 4; fifteen in District 5; twenty-one in District 6; and forty-nine in District 7.
“With 68% of all dollar stores located in my District, I have an obligation to take every action possible to ensure these stores do not adversely impact our community,” said Cochran-Johnson. “I have no problem with dollar stores in my District. I am against their proliferation of underserved communities and I feel the need to educate people on the consequences of their presence. Dollar stores have a huge impact on healthy communities and economic development. As a Commissioner, their over saturation creates a challenge for me in many ways.”
To combat the growth of dollar stores Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Missouri; Fort Worth, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; and New Orleans, Louisiana have all passed legislation restricting dollar store growth.
“I have studied dollar store legislation passed in cities across the U.S.,” said Commissioner Cochran-Johnson, “I am proud to be a part of a national conversation on how to limit the growth of dollar stores. I am grateful to CBS and the team at the Institute for Local Self Reliance and their commitment to ensuring healthy communities across the United States.”