Fast growing discount chain to open stores sooner than projected
By Wendy Nugent, Special to the Lincoln Sentinel-Republican
Chapman and Lincoln are small rural communities in the heart of central Kansas.
Chapman is home to astronaut Joe Engle, while Lincoln has been known as the post rock (the stone, not the music) capital of the Sunflower State with many downtown businesses made of this material.
Neither town is large, with populations at around 1,300.
Both burgs have nice downtowns with many local businesses. What the towns also have in common is they each have a Dollar General store that’s going to open around November 23, said Adam Blue, associate with developer Tyler Oliver with Colby Capital LLC of Overland Park.
“We’re anxious for it to open up,” Chapman Mayor Phil Weishaar said.
Right now, Chapman doesn’t have a store of this kind, which Weishaar said is like a general mercantile store. He said he’s sure 50 years ago, Chapman had general mercantile stores.
“But there hasn’t been anything like that (here) for a long time,” he said.
In addition, it seems other businesses are welcoming Dollar General to Chapman.
“They were excited,” Weishaar said about how Chapman business owners reacted when they heard Dollar General was coming to town.
They were thrilled because having that Dollar General in town could boost their businesses. Dollar General has the concept that their stores offer an alternative to town residents other than driving 10-15 minutes to a Wal-Mart in another area, Weishaar said.
“The idea is if you’re going to stay in town to shop, they’ll stay in town to do other things too,” like shopping at other local businesses, the mayor said.
Jon Londeen, owner of Londeen’s Do It Best Hardware in Chapman, echoed those sentiments.
“I’m thinking that’s good,” he said. “Competition doesn’t hurt anything … Dollar General does a good job. I think it’s good for the town. They’ve got quite an investment they’ve put in there … Competition’s good.”
In light of competition, Londeen said Dollar General will carry some items Londeen’s normally sells, but Dollar General also will help their business.
“If it’s like normal, they’ll have people going to Dollar General and ask for things they don’t carry, and they’ll refer them to us,” he said.
Even Wal-Mart in Junction City has referred customers to Londeen’s for items that superstore doesn’t carry, such as some plumbing, and lawn and garden products.
“It works both ways,” Londeen said. “If you can build up a lot of different stores in your town, I think that’s good.”
He added it’s nice to have similar businesses in town so people can compare. If not, they might go out of town for their purchases.
Londeen’s carries a variety of items, including furniture, carpet and sporting goods. It’s been in Chapman since 1938, and Londeen took over the business from his father in 1963; they’ve been at their current location since that time.
Chapman’s downtown area isn’t large.
“Like most small towns, we have a limited downtown area,” Weishaar said. “We have a hardware store and a clothing store and then a restaurant, your typical antique stores. We do have a music shop and a quilting shop.”
He also said there are other businesses, like those that involve insurance.
The mayor said he doesn’t think Dollar General will negatively impact downtown.
“I don’t see it’s going to be much of a problem,” he said. “We really don’t have anything like that in town, so there won’t be much competition at this point.”
Weishaar also doesn’t think Dollar General is trying to bring in a customer base from outside of Chapman.
“I don’t think Dollar General will do that at all,” he said. “Dollar General is just concerned with servicing the community they’re in … There are many stores in the state of Kansas.”
He added that in the area, there are two in Junction City, and one each in Herington, Wakefield and Abilene.
Lincoln Mayor Travis Schwerdtfager is hoping having a Dollar General in their town will bring them more outside business.
“Yeah, I’m hoping,” Schwerdtfager said. “It’s on 18 Highway,” and there’s towns like Lucas and Hunter that use that road. “Hopefully, on their way to Salina, they’ll stop.”
The Lincoln mayor said the store will positively impact Lincoln in a few ways, two of which are paying more sales tax to the city and providing jobs.
“Hopefully, them coming to town will bring other businesses to town,” he said.
Lincoln does have a number of businesses and attractions downtown, such as a hardware store, a couple of banks, a clothing store, theater, insurance agencies, museums, restaurants and attorneys. Lincoln is a small community, Schwerdtfager said, with all small businesses.
“It’s hard to make small businesses roll sometimes,” he said, “especially when you live close to a city like Salina.”
It seems most of the talk from Lincoln business owners about Dollar General has been upbeat, Schwerdtfager said.
“I would say for the most part, (it’s been) on the positive side,” he said.
Development and construction
Construction at the Lincoln and Chapman Dollar Generals began in late summer, said Adam Blue, associate with Tyler Oliver, developer with Colby Capital LLC of Overland Park.
Colby Capital LLC is a preferred developer for Dollar General, Blue said, adding Dollar General doesn’t own its own real estate. Dollar General just tells Colby Capital it wants a store built in a certain town. Then Colby goes to the town, acquires the land, builds the structure and leases it back to Dollar General. Colby Capital LLC is the landlord, Blue said.
In Lincoln, the store will be at the northwest edge of town where there are a couple of gas stations. In Chapman, the new business will be next to the new bank on the main highway that runs into town, Blue said.
“We’re really excited to bring Dollar Generals to these towns,” Blue said. “It just makes sense what Dollar General can offer … for these small towns.”
Incentives for development
Blue said Colby Capital LLC worked very closely with Chapman and Lincoln.
“We worked directly with both cities with the purchase of the land, and Lincoln did give us the land,” Blue said. “We worked very closely with the city (of Chapman) on the property. They were very heavily involved. It worked out very well.”
The land in Lincoln is owned by the county, and is available for free to those willing to relocate or build a new business on it. The property has been annexed into the City of Lincoln.
In Chapman, the store was brought to town under the guidelines of the Chapman Business Incentive Program, according to an Aug. 28 article in the Chapman News-Times. This program is funded by a one percent local sales tax that was initiated in 2012. The article also stated it’s projected the store will take in around $1.2 million in sales for a year, and this would come to $12,000 in sales tax. This was reported at the March 2014 Chapman council meeting.
About Dollar General
Dollar General Corp., based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, says it’s America’s largest small-box discount retailer, according to www.dollargeneral.com.
The corporation is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, starting in 1939 during the Depression when J.L. Turner and Cal Turner Sr. opened J.L. Turner and Son Wholesale in Scottsville, Ky. Each invested $5,000. At the time, a pair of stockings went for 25 cents while a dress shirt was 50 cents.
The first Dollar General store opened in 1955 in Springfield, Ky.; Turner’s Department store was converted into the first Dollar General.
Dollar General became a public company in 1968. During that year, 100 shares of stock cost $1,650, the website stated. Then in 1976, annual sales exceeded $100 million.
In 2001, Dollar General opened its 5,000th store, and 11 years later, it opened its 10,000th store.
Just in September, Dollar General Corp. was attempting to acquire Family Dollar Stores, according to the Wall Street Journal website. As reported in a Sept. 19 Wall Street Journal article, Dollar General had lobbied Family Dollar shareholders and “began actively soliciting votes against a deal that would unite its two main rivals, ratcheting up its effort to acquire Family Dollar Stores Inc.”
Dollar General had been attempting to take its $9.1 billion offer to FD’s shareholders, circumventing FD’s board of directors, which has been repeatedly rejected. FD’s board is in favor of an $8.5 million stock and cash sale to another company, Dollar Tree, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Kansas has dozens of Dollar General locations including stores in Beloit, Ellsworth, Minneapolis, and Osborne in close proximity to Lincoln, and Abilene, Herington, Junction City, and Wakefield, in close proximity to Chapman.