GARNER —The local retail industry has seen a significant decline in foot traffic as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Although many retailers go dark without making their closures public, Andy Ellen, president and general counsel at the N.C. Retail Merchants Association says that to his knowledge, at least 20 retail businesses in downtown Raleigh permanently shut down in 2020.
Despite this alarming statistic, a new store, pOpshelf, is bringing jobs to the area. The company recently opened a new location in Garner. pOpshelf is the latest store concept to originate out of the broader Dollar General line of retailers. The store includes a mix of home décor, beauty products, party and craft supplies, toys, specialty foods, electronics, cleaning supplies and more and most items are $5 or less. pOpshelf says their primary customer base tends to be women living in diverse suburban communities, with total household annual income ranging from $50,000 to $125,000. The store celebrated its recent opening by giving customers an opportunity to enter to win a year of free shopping through a “Surprise and Joy For A Year” Sweepstakes.
Dollar General opened two of its five pOpshelf stores in Tennessee in October of last year. There are currently five stores now open in Hendersonville, TN; Clarksville, TN; McDonough, GA; Monroe, NC and Garner and executives plan to open a total of 30 stores by the end of fiscal 2021. Each pOpshelf store will create up to 15 new jobs and employ team members passionate about helping customers enjoy their shopping experience. At pOpshelf, team members will have the opportunity to join an environment that brings to life the new brand’s mission of making shopping exciting and fun. Candidates interested in joining the pOpshelf team can apply online at https://careers.pOpshelf.com/.
Not to be confused with the Henderson, NC-based Variety Wholesalers, which also operates a number of discount and off-price stores across the Southeast, Dollar General is an American chain of variety stores headquartered in Goodlettsville, TN. Originally founded as J.L. Turner and Son in 1939, the company changed its name to Dollar General in the 1950’s and later went public on the NYSE. Over the years, the corporation has grown to become one of the most profitable stores in the rural U.S. with revenue reaching an estimated $27 billion in 2019.
While there are similarities between the two lines of retail stores, mangers say pOpshelf is a differentiated store and shopping experience. Each approximately 9,000 square foot pOpshelf store is focused on delivering a combination of continually-refreshed merchandise, seasonal specials and limited-time items while also surpassing price and value expectations. pOpshelf will also carry a highly-curated crossover assortment of Dollar General’s private brands, many of which have been recently rebranded. Dollar General offers products that are frequently used and replenished, such as food, snacks, health and beauty aids, cleaning supplies, basic apparel, housewares and seasonal items at often lowest market prices. Dollar General operated 16,720 stores in 46 states as of July 31, 2020.
The fact that pOpshelf will create jobs with each new store is certainly a bright spot amidst a bleaker national unemployment rate. Nearly a year into the pandemic the labor market remains mired in what has been dubbed a “winter slowdown.” The Wall Street Journal reports weekly jobless figures remain well above their pre-pandemic peak and are higher than in any previous recession tracing back to 1967. Experts say these high jobless claims figures point to a slowing economic recovery. Nonetheless, pOpshelf executives see opportunity and hope in the days to come and remain upbeat about welcoming customers to all their new stores.
“We are excited to introduce pOpshelf from a position of strength, further highlighting our innovative spirit and building on our proven track record of store format innovation,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have leveraged robust consumer insights to create a unique store that we believe will resonate with new customers, while providing Dollar General with even more opportunities for growth in the years ahead.”
pOpshelf celebrated the Garner store’s grand opening with an $4,000 donation to The Confetti Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded to provide birthday parties to children who have to spend their birthday in a hospital, pediatric oncology clinic or hospice facility. The foundation seeks to provide positive memories and normalcy for these kids during an otherwise difficult time. pOpshelf’s donation is expected to provide approximately 100 parties.