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Two dollar stores too many with Family Dollar now in Easthampton

  • A Family Dollar Store opened in August at the Union Street Plaza  in Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • This new business, a  Family Dollar Store, opened in August  in Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Views of the Family Dollar Store in Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

Family Dollar opened in the Union Street plaza Aug. 16, after building owner Bernard Gawle gutted, renovated and expanded the building this spring and summer. The 9,000-square-foot storefront had been vacant for two years since Movie Gallery closed in 2010.

The store is one of over 7,000 in the nationwide chain, which sells items including food, household items and clothes. While Easthampton Dollar was a true dollar store, in that everything was priced at $1, prices at Family Dollar vary, but are usually under $10.

The new store employs between eight and 10 people, said Bryn Winburn, public relations manager for Family Dollar, Inc.

“We have been pleased with the community’s reaction to our store and we are pleased to be a part of the Easthampton community,” Winburn said. “It seems area residents are excited to have a neighborhood Family Dollar.”

Family Dollar stores sell first-run merchandise, not over-runs or seconds, she said.

“Through our buying power, we’re able to work with the leading domestic manufacturers to offer quality merchandise at everyday value prices that are typically below supermarkets, drug stores or convenience stores,” Winburn said.

She said people are looking for those bargains now more than ever.

“We believe there has been a structural change to the U.S. population as a result of the great recession, and people now view the way they spend money much differently,” she said. “It’s en vogue to save money, and save money on the products you buy every day.”

Winburn said that the company is also committed to helping communities where it has stores by donating to local nonprofits. “We look forward to lending a hand to such organizations in this new community,” she said.

Easthampton Dollar to close

Meanwhile, Easthampton Dollar co-owner Neil Domina said that soon after Family Dollar opened, his family decided it was time to close, “rather than trying to fight it.”

“We’ve been here for five years, that’s a good run,” he said last week. The store has been offering its inventory for half price this month in an attempt to clear the shelves by the end October.

Domina said that in the two months Family Dollar has been in business, his clientele has dwindled, but not completely dropped off. “But for a small business like ours, losing even a small number of customers is a big deal,” he said. “It’s impossible for us to compete with that kind of buying power.”

He added that over the last five years, it has been getting harder to cover the costs of doing business. He said that while other stores are able to raise prices to cover increasing overhead costs, true dollar stores, where everything is priced at $1, cannot.

He said his family is not bitter about closing the doors to their shop on the corner of Union Street and Chapman Avenue.

“When we first opened, we did it because we thought it was something the town needed,” he said. “I think we were able to help a lot of people with their budgets and to make ends meet.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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