Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
June 5, 2009
Vive La Recession! Good for Dollar General, Bad for Madame Snooty
did you get the idea that recessions are bad for business?
depends on the business. Just ask the people at Dollar General, if you can
get their attention in the midst of their busy day. Dollar General’s profits
are soaring – and I mean soaring. Last year, the entire company made
$5.9 million in profits in the first quarter. This year’s first quarter
profits? How about $83 million?
General is doing so well, it’s spending $275 million to open 450 new stores.
Pretty soon, you’ll probably have a Dollar General right next to those
dueling CVS and Walgreens stores that are at the corner up the street from
course, Dollar General isn’t doing well in spite of the recession. Dollar
General is doing well because of the recession. Pretty much
everything in a Dollar General store will cost you $10 or less. That
includes some stuff I can’t imagine why you would ever want – little plastic
trinkets and the like – but it also includes some stuff you might pick up at
a higher-end retail store if you were shopping there anyway.
Americans are flocking to Dollar General and similar stores like Dollar Tree
and Family Dollar Stores. By the end of this year, there will be close to
9,000 Dollar General stores in the U.S.
what does this mean for the state of our culture and society in general?
will be, I realize, some bemoaning of this trend. Surely we can’t be far
from the release of a new JibJab cartoon in which thousands of people rush
into “DollarCorporal” heeding a sign urging them to “buy crap.” If my high
school French teacher, Madame Snooty, is still afflicting the Earth with her
presence, she will surely lecture her classes on how wrong it is that anyone
will buy junk at Dollar General when they could be laying their hands on
top-of-the-line merchandise at Nordstrom’s.
you think you could learn French from a fast-talking Chinese woman? You know
seems to me that our economic troubles started when people who couldn’t
afford to live like Madame Snooty started trying to do so anyway, with the
help of their handy credit cards. If these folks have now discovered the
virtues of thrift, and are shopping in establishments that are better
aligned with their economic realities, the recession has served a useful
Remember, after all, what a recession is – and what it isn’t. A recession
simply means that the gross domestic product in a given quarter was less
than the previous quarter, and that this happens two quarters in a row. It
doesn’t mean the sky is falling and all is lost. And since I bet you can’t
tell me what the gross domestic product is, or what it should be, you don’t
really have any idea if the GDP receding for a quarter or two is really such
a big deal.
be that the GDP was ridiculously high in quarter one because too many people
were listening to Madame Snooty and buying jogging shorts from Nordstrom’s –
all on their credit cards – when jogging shorts for which they could have
paid cash at Dollar General would have gotten the job done just as well.
buying stuff with your credit card – well, you know, that’s like getting it
for free! (Or so you tell yourself when you’re making the purchase.) And if
you happen to find yourself jogging around Madame Snooty’s neighborhood and
she spots you in those $9 shorts from Dollar General . . . oh boy, she’s
going to come out on the lawn and start cursing you out in five different
there you are, decked out in high-end jogging shorts with some elite
corporate logo adorning the side, when you decide to stop at the mailbox
before your run. And look, there’s your credit card bill!
story short: After the neighbors call 911and the EMTs get you to come to, it
occurs to you that this elite corporate logo isn’t really making you run any
faster or sweat any more proficiently – and maybe the $9 shorts from Dollar
General wouldn’t have been such a bad investment after all.
and hundreds of thousands of others are instantly reformed, and bang!
Recession! But it’s the best kind, and now Dollar General’s profits are
going through the roof. None of this will make Madame Snooty happy, of
course, but then she did give me a 42 percent on my French final, so Madame
Snooty can take the casual attire aisle at Nordstrom’s all the way to Hell
as far as I’m concerned.
Vive la recession!
© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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