Family Dollar to open first California stores
The shops -- located in Fontana, Riverside, Ontario and Rialto -- mark the first step in a major push into California by the North Carolina company, which plans to open up to 50 new locations in the state by next fall.
"California has been on our radar for a few years, and we finally thought it was the right time given economic conditions," said company spokesman Josh Braverman.
Like other dollar chains, Family Dollar has benefited during the economic downturn as its core customers -- who earn $40,000 or less a year -- tried to stretch their dollars, Braverman said. Middle-income shoppers nervous about the economy have also provided a boost. "Those earning $40,000 to $80,000 a year. These customers may feel like like, 'Where is that double-dip recession, when is that other shoe going to drop?' " Braverman said. "They realize they can come in and save a couple of bucks."
The chain, which operates about 7,000 stores around the country, will first focus on Southern California before venturing north, Braverman said. Each location will hire about 10 employees from the local community.
Family Dollar will face competition from 99 Cents Only Stores Inc., a City of Commerce chain that recently agreed to be acquired by a Los Angeles private equity firm and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
But Braverman said there was room enough in California for both chains.
"Competition is not new to us," he said. "We have been able to carve out a niche for ourselves."
-- Shan Li
Photo: Carolyn Henry Glaspy stocks shelves at a Family Dollar store in Cincinnati. Credit: Michael E. Keating / Associated Press