Dollar General Takes Aim at Higher-End Customers

The discount retailer’s Popshelf chain caters to wealthier shoppers in big city suburbs. 

October 09, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Dollar General, one of the largest dollar-store chains in the United States which competes with convenience stores, has built its empire on low prices in rural America, but now is eyeing a higher-end clientele with its Popshelf concept, the Wall Street Journal reports. With more than 16,300 stores mostly in rural areas, the company will soon open two Popshelf stores in Nashville, with 30 total by the end of 2020.

The products featured, such as home décor, beauty treatments, pet supplies and craft and party supplies, will be priced mostly below $5, but are designed to appeal to women from households earning $125,000 annually. The company anticipates even its typical shopper will enjoy “treating themselves without the guilt associated with overspending,” said Emily Taylor, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.

Popshelf has been in the works for two years, and Taylor said the pandemic hadn’t changed the company’s schedule for the new concept. “The need for this store is very relevant now and maybe increasingly so,” she said.

Overall, sales at Dollar General have skyrocketed during the pandemic, with shoppers on the hunt for specific items like toilet paper and disinfecting wipes or simply looking for deals. The retailer also has increased its fresh category recently. For years, the chain has been working on ways to bring in higher-income shoppers but hadn’t come up with a workable solution that wouldn’t alienate its core customers of women from households earning about $40,000 annually.

Popshelf will also have more “treasure-hunt” items, those products sold for a short period of time to bring customers back more often. “It’s a much different concept, look and feel than a traditional Dollar General,” said CEO Todd Vasos. “There is nothing wrong with that traditional Dollar General … but customer-facing-wise, we are going to do our best to keep those two brands separated.”

For more information regarding the competition convenience stores face from dollar stores read “The Buck Stops Where?” in the October 2019 issue of NACS Magazine.

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