The Dark Side of Dollar Stores

The Dark Side of Dollar Stores

Dollar stores have experienced tremendous growth since the Great Recession. Once perceived as low-cost options in economically depressed areas with few, if any, grocery stores, they now emerge as aggressive business ventures that perpetuate inequality and segregation.

Certain communities have started to push back against the proliferation of these stores.


Video Spotlight: Don’t buy these foods at the dollar store


This post is based on the CityLab article, The Dollar Store Backlash Has Begun, by T. Misra, December 20, 2018; and on the YouTube video Don’t buy these foods at the dollar store, by Mashed, November 12, 2018. Image source: ljupco/123RF

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of dollar stores?

Guidance: The primary advantages include: a) offering inexpensive grocery items in low-income communities, b) providing a variety of low-cost staples, c) hiring in depressed areas, and d) filling the void left by grocery chains leaving low-income neighborhoods for more affluent ones.

The main disadvantages include: a) offering low-quality, unhealthy foods, not always at the lowest prices, b) pushing other, small grocery stores out of business, thereby exacerbating the “food desert” problem, c) providing low-pay jobs, and d) inadvertently increasing segregation.

2. What Continue reading

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It’s All About Location, Location, Location

It’s All About Location, Location, Location

How important is access to public transportation in corporate location decisions?

According to this article, access to public transportation is now a major factor as large corporations, including Amazon, McDonalds, and Caterpillar, attempt to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market.

It is especially a factor for Millennials, who have multiple job prospects and often prefer not to own a car — or cannot afford one.


Audio Spotlight: Listen to related podcast (click blue button in top left-hand corner)


This post is based on the NPR article, ‘Talent Wants Transit’: Companies Near Transportation Gaining the Upper Hand, by D. Schaper, November 29, 2018. Image source: egdigital/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why do businesses prefer locations with easy access to public transportation? Is it true for all types of businesses?

Guidance: The article identifies the primary reason as attracting and retaining employees. It is important for businesses to have easy access to their markets as well. This is why the service sector typically enjoys strong economic activity in city areas with public transportation stations and stops.

As an added bonus, large cities with extensive public transportation options often have access to major airports and highways, Continue reading

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