Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dollar General and Trickling Pork

I'm pleased to announce the Federal stimulus package is officially working. How do I know this? Because Garden City, Missouri (pop. 1,500) just welcomed the arrival of its first national retailer--Dollar General Stores.

I live in the Kansas City hinterlands, in "the country" so to speak, some fifteen minutes from the closest Wal-Mart and almost an hour from a regional mall. So imagine our joy when Dollar General arrived, just four miles away in Garden City, to give us another outlet for the purchase of Spam, potted meat and other products which were once part of a pig. But seriously, heretofore our trips to Garden City have only involved excursions to C-Store Casey's to purchase staples like pizza and essential items like vegetable pizza. Now that we have DG, an entire 9,014 square feet of shopping paradise awaits.

If you live in a slightly larger metropolitan area, say, Tokyo, you may at this point be somewhat envious to hear of our new Dollar General since you can't shop like we do. My only advice to you is to be patient, "sit tight" and hope market forces (Economic Stimulus Money) visit a yen near you. In the meantime, try not to salivate as I give you a "virtual tour" of DG's "merchandise mix" (a complicated formula which measures the ratio of Mossy Oak to Hormel products). Perhaps you can begin developing your own personal shopping list for the day Economic Stimulus monies "trickle up" and a Dollar General finally comes to your town.

Dollar General's website says the company stands for convenience, quality brands and low prices. The company also boasts that it carries "items you just can't live without, you know, things like detergent, soap, socks, underwear…" and as I observed personally, ladies French purses and "Exfoliating Moisturizing Ointment."

As my initial stroll through the store revealed, Dollar General's most popular aisles are dedicated to health and beauty products. These products include well known brands like Crest, Sauve, and Tylenol. But if one digs deeper, an entire cosmos of store-branded merchandise unfolds before you. Men will recognize Old Spice as a manly fragrance worn primarily by reeking fishermen at sea. Old Spice is a very popular brand among "men of a certain age," but juxtaposed at eye level with Old Spice Body Wash was Dollar General's brand—"BodySense." I was impressed by the deep discount offered by BodySense over the Old Spice brand—so impressed that I purchased some BodySense Invigorating Sport Body Wash for $2.50 (compared to the Old Spice version at $3.75). I am happy report that I was not disappointed in my purchase and the BodySense brand body wash is definitely thicker than water.

Sense is not limited to one's body at Dollar General, however. Consider the chain's health brand "HealthSense." HealthSense produces an array of products for the cost-conscious consumer. Because HealthSense does not have to spend costly fees on advertising and brand development strategies, it doesn't have to come up with catchy names for its products. Consider this product's name instead: "Maximum Strength Heartburn Prevention." That product does the consumer a favor by not wasting his or her valuable time trying to figure out what's inside the box. No confusion with pesky brand names like Tums or Pepacid

HealthSense shines most when considering its baby products. Some of my favorites are "Infants' Gas Relief" and "Creamy (as opposed, presumably, to Chunky) Diaper Rash Ointment." Where were these products when my wife and I were new parents? Perhaps receiving my greatest admiration was what must be HealthSense's flagship product—the venerable "Freezer Pop Electrolyte Solution Variety Pack." That's good news for you parents who still have barfing infants. Back when my children were babies and had lost valuable and helpful electrolytes, they demanded variety. Sadly no variety was available and we only had orange pops to stick in the freezer. Now DG's pops are delivered in a host of flavors and colors, allowing you to now sport a kaleidoscope of vomit stains on your pajamas.

Now for my favorite section—Food. In the DG freezer case you'll find Tombstone Pizzas and TGI Fridays Wings. But DG stays true to its Southern roots by offering a customer favorite—Curly's Pulled Pork Sandwiches. The store's menu also sports a variety of packaged cookies, crackers, and cereals for your pre-diabetic pleasure. Here Dollar General also offers a value brand—Clover Valley. Clover Valley offers a veritable smorgasbord of popular food stuffs like peanut butter ($2.50 compared to JIF at $3.50) and soy sauce. I can go along with Clover Valley on many items, but I draw the line on the soy sauce. I'm neither buying nor eating any Chinese condiment that doesn't have some sort of authentic name. Can you imagine going to P.F. Chang's, ordering Moo Goo Gai Pan, then asking your server for some Clover Valley soy sauce? No Sir.

Men are not forgotten at DG. In fact, at least one-half aisle is dedicated to hardware and automotive products. A respectable assortment of motor oils and shop towels are available, and, for the adventuresome male with a sensitive side, Dollar General carries Bahama Bag Company's "Tahitian Vanilla Scent Pouch" for placement under the seat of your car. From the looks of the pickups and SUVs in our DG's parking lot, I'd say they should've conducted a little better market research before putting that product in our store.

If you don't yet have a Dollar General near your billfold, don't lose heart. The Federal Stimulus Monies are just kicking in, and soon you'll be able to catch the rising tide we've experienced here in Garden City.

Ben Bernanke and the United States Congress will get their way, and when they do there'll be Curly's Pulled Pork in every pot.

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