What's Happening in Rural America?

February 23, 2024

As of 2019, there are more than 16,000 Dollar General stores in the United States.

And in the first quarter of 2020, the expansive dollar store chain’s sales increased 27.6% to $8.4 billion. This sales growth supersedes that of superstores like Walmart and Target.

So… what does this mean? Why is this significant?


Well, it’s significant for a few reasons:

  1. Dollar Generals are sprouting up in areas too small for big box stores.
  2. These rural areas and suburbs tend to rely on Dollar General due to its ease of access and cheap prices.
  3. The food options at Dollar General are typically unhealthy and unsustainable (save for a minority of its stores beginning to feature healthier items and produce).

As most things go, deep issues (such as nutritional access in rural America) are usually more complicated than they initially seem. So instead of jumping to conclusions, let’s take a closer look at the matters at hand.

Why Dollar Stores are Hurting Rural America

Data shows that rural communities are more challenged for money and resources than their urban counterparts.

The NCBI journal linked above states that “on average, rural areas have higher levels of poverty, higher percentages of older adults, and slower-growing or declining populations.”

And we are seeing something interesting happening in these rural areas…

The rise of the dollar store.

At the beginning of this blog – we mentioned the rapid growth of Dollar General stores from 2007-2019. In 2007, there were 8,194 Dollar Generals in the USA. Now, there are more than 16,000.

This spike in Dollar General stores is doing something potentially dangerous to the rural and low-income urban ecosystem. It’s adding a nutrition barrier.

In this piece from CNN, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin states that “While dollar stores proliferated across our community, healthy food options dried up.”

Towns and cities are beginning to put restrictions on Dollar General locations. Not only is nutrition a concern, but local groceries find themselves struggling to stay in business when Dollar Generals move into their communities.

Full-service groceries are dissuaded from opening or thriving due to Dollar General’s saturating business model tactics. This means less produce and less local camaraderie between stores and local farms.

HOPEFULLY, some of these problems can be addressed with dollar stores making initiatives to provide healthier options, but it’s also about knowing the heart of a community one is aiming to serve. Dollar General should strive to have communities’ best interests at heart before setting up shop.

If not, problems will persist – and maybe, problems will become worse.

But we shouldn’t ever lose hope for things to get better.

How Nutrition 3.0 Can Make the Changes we Need

The problems in our world are daunting. There always seems to be a multitude of viewpoints on every issue, and we are human… which makes our problems even more complicated.

Our goal at Journey Foods is to help companies reach Nutrition 3.0, a new era of food with optimized cost, nutrition, and sustainability.

If we can help others bring down costs in a sustainable way… we may be able to start remedying some of the issues discussed today. With smarter, safer ways of testing and observing real-time supply chain insights – our software can save companies money. Plain and simple.

And this may be the start of bringing good and sustainable, nutritionally accessible CPG products to EVERYONE – urban, rural, wealthy, or low-income.

  • Our tools help companies with an average of 20 employees save over $60k a year.
  • With every new iteration of a product, comes an average 14% revenue gain.
  • We can reduce a 6-month research phase to 2 weeks – saving over 4,000 hours of company time.

This is the power of nutrition 3.0.

Bringing accessibility to all is the future; because whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together.

By giving nutrition access to all communities everywhere, chains that take over rural America becomes less of a problem (at least on the nutrition side).

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