“THEY want to build one every four miles,” says the cashier at Dollar General, a discount shop, in Lewisburg, a small town in the rolling hills of central Tennessee. Situated on a big parking lot, next to a provider of payday loans open 24 hours a day, a supermarket chain called Priceless and Dirt Cheap, another southern chain of discount shops flogging the unsold or returned merchandise of other retailers, the shop is one of three Dollar Generals in Lewisburg. Tennessee is the home state of Dollar General, which in recent years overtook its rivals to become the retailer of choice of low-income Americans, so it has one of the denser statewide networks of shops. Yet with well over 14,000 outlets across America (about the same number as there are McDonald’s restaurants) almost 75% of Americans now live within five miles of a Dollar General.

“Over the last five years a new Dollar General opened every four-and-a-half hours,” says Garrick Brown at Cushman & Wakefield, a property agent. The…Continue reading