Dollar store war: Store likely headed to West Paris

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By Steve Moore

WEST PARIS—What could be called “The Dollar Wars” is coming to Western Maine. While the Dollar General is attempting to take over the Family Dollar chain, which Dollar Tree is also trying to buy, it has announced that five new locations are under construction in Maine and a “Coming Soon” sign has been at Trap Corner in West Paris for several months.

“We are in due diligence,” Dan MacDonald, senior director of Dollar General’s corporate communications department, said about the West Paris location, explaining that it is the final stage before construction begins on a store. “We should get some clarity on it pretty quickly in the next two to three weeks.”

West Paris Town Manager John White said that Dollar General has filed everything the town needs for it to proceed.

“It’s moving forward, the Planning Board reviewed the plans a couple of months ago,”  he said. “The only sense I got is they want to get it done as quickly as they can.”

And yet, McDonald isn’t willing to say that.

“The store hasn’t been green lighted, we’ve identified the location and we’ve identified that we can compete with the competition,” he said Friday.

McDonald said the store would be 9,100 square feet, with a sales floor of 7,300 square feet, which is its standard layout and will provide staples that people need every day.

“Bread eggs, milk and cheese and other groceries [will be sold],” he said, as well as health and beauty products and apparel. “We’re name brands at everyday low prices. What we don’t do, we don’t have every brand, we choose carefully what items to carry.”

Underlying these plans is an ongoing corporate drama with three different companies all competing for consumer dollars. Earlier in the year, Dollar Tree made an offer to acquire Family Dollar. That offer has not yet been accepted or denied. Recently, Dollar General began a hostile takeover bid for Family Dollar and reportedly made a higher offer to its shareholders. A decision will be made on Dec. 11 at a special meeting of Family Dollar shareholders, who will vote on the merger.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently reviewing both offers to insure there are no anti-trust violations. As a result of the FTC review, the proposed merger agreement of Family Dollar by Dollar Tree was amended to include closing as many Dollar Tree stores as necessary to obtain anti-trust clearance from the FTC.

Dollar General stores are similar to Family Dollar stores in that while some items are priced under a dollar, many others are more expensive.

“A couple of things we like to point out so people know what they’re getting 25 percent are a dollar or less, 75 percent are over. I do think people will enjoy the store ’cause what were all about is making it simple and affordable for shoppers,” MacDonald said.

He went on to say that the proposed store would create six to 10 full-time and part-time jobs and that the company thrives in rural areas.

“Our model is small towns, 70 percent of our stores are in communities of 20,000 or less. Our sweet spot is small town America,” he said.

Family Dollar opened its new, larger location on Main Street in South Paris this week. Staff at that store were unable to comment on the proposed merger or staffing plans for the larger location. Similarly, management of the Dollar Tree in Oxford would not speak about the future of that location or the merger.

smoore@advertiserdemocrat.com