by Jeff Delp
Living in a community without retail businesses can be a challenge. We’ve talked many times about the hardship of a “food desert,” where getting healthy, affordable food is difficult. But what about when you need a last minute greeting card? Yep. That's a thirty minute trip by car or a couple hours by bus. Kid’s sick and you need medicine at night? The same. Need a bag of ice, cooking utensil, or something else for a meal? Thirty minutes or more.
For a neighborhood to thrive, it needs a variety of retail options. At FCS, we bring small business and partners to the neighborhood that help to provide jobs, spur the local economy toward growth, and increase access to resources for all our neighbors.
Our latest endeavor in South Atlanta was launching Carver Neighborhood Market last year to create a food oasis. Shortly after the grocery opened, we learned Family Dollar would also be opening a store in the Lakewood Heights business district - just 1 mile south of us. They don't sell produce or many of the other groceries we do, but we were a little nervous about having competition on our comparable items.
What we’ve discovered in the months since we've opened is that our sales and traffic have actually increased compared to pre-Family Dollar days. Why is this the case? We think it’s because consumers like options. The easier they can get what they need in the neighborhood, the more likely they are to stay and shop in the neighborhood. We’re happy our sales have increased, and we’re also glad our neighbors now have another option for life’s miscellaneous stuff - like socks, markers, or tongs - that was difficult to access prior to Family Dollar’s arrival.
Sometimes dollar stores are seen as bad retail for neighborhoods like ours. “They don't attract the right kind of businesses,” the story often goes. But from my years of living in South Atlanta, we’ll take what we can get at this point. I’m thankful for the options Family Dollar has provided for our community.
If I lived somewhere else, I might not choose a dollar store, but I certainly will here. Of course, I’m still going to promote shopping at Carver Market on our similar items, but I’m glad to see other businesses sprouting up in South Atlanta. We want our neighbors to have access and choices that are local and accessible. It’s a sign of economic development in a community that hasn’t seen it in a long time.
Photo credit: Traveller858