Dollar Stores

Dollar General,  Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree are multiplying rapidly across many urban neighborhoods and small towns. There’s growing evidence that these stores are not merely a symptom of economic distress. They’re a cause of it.

The following reports and resources explore the impact of dollar stores on communities and how a growing number of places are adopting measures that limit their spread and encourage the development of full-service grocery stores instead.

Also see our policy tools: examples of dollar store restrictions.

Featured Reports & Resources

More Cities Pass Laws to Block Dollar Store Chains

More Cities Pass Laws to Block Dollar Store Chains

Charlie Thaxton

September 26, 2019

Fueled by easy cash from Wall Street, two dominant chains are opening thousands of dollar stores across urban and rural communities, and causing economic distress nationwide. Inspired by ILSR’s research, a growing number of cities, including Birmingham, Cleveland, and New Orleans, are now taking legislative action to block new dollar stores and support local grocery store development instead. We take a closer look at this national movement.READ MORE


Maps Show Alarming Pattern of Dollar Stores’ Spread in U.S. Cities

Maps Show Alarming Pattern of Dollar Stores’ Spread in U.S. Cities

Marie Donahue

February 20, 2019

Original maps from eight U.S. cities show how numerous dollar stores have become in urban America and reveal a striking pattern between dollar store locations and neighborhood income and race. We discuss each local context, presenting evidence for why these patterns have emerged and how some cities are beginning to check the spread of dollar chains.READ MORE


Report: Dollar Stores Are Targeting Struggling Urban Neighborhoods and Small Towns. One Community Is Showing How to Fight Back.

Report: Dollar Stores Are Targeting Struggling Urban Neighborhoods and Small Towns. One Community Is Showing How to Fight Back.

Stacy Mitchell

December 6, 2018

Although dollar stores sometimes fill a need in places that lack basic retail services, there’s growing evidence that these stores are not merely a byproduct of economic distress. They’re a cause of it. In small towns and urban neighborhoods alike, dollar stores are leading full-service grocery stores to close. And their strategy of saturating communities with multiple outlets is making it impossible for new grocers and other local businesses to take root and grow.READ MORE


Factsheets & Infographics

The Impact of Dollar Stores and How Communities Can Fight Back (Fact Sheet)

The Impact of Dollar Stores and How Communities Can Fight Back (Fact Sheet)

Marie Donahue

December 6, 2018

National dollar store chains, including Dollar General and Dollar Tree, have seen huge growth over the past decade. These stores are also feeding more Americans than Whole Foods is. New research from ILSR's Community-Scaled Economy Initiative documents the rapid rise of dollar stores and their damaging effects on the local economies of cities and small towns. Explore our two-page fact sheet to learn more about dollar store impacts and strategies to take action.READ MORE


Audio & Video

Reining in Dollar Stores (Episode 59)

Reining in Dollar Stores (Episode 59)

Hibba Meraay

November 15, 2018

Co-hosts Stacy Mitchell and Marie Donahue speak with Tulsa City Councilwoman, Vanessa Hall-Harper. Earlier this year, the city council of Tulsa, Oklahoma passed an ordinance restricting dollar stores from building new locations in north Tulsa, a predominantly African-American area.READ MORE