U.S.A. fact of the day

“Over the last five years a new Dollar General opened every four-and-a-half hours…”

That is from The Economist.  The article attributes much of the success of the chain to its location decisions, such as opening near churches, schools, highways, and post offices.

Comments

& oddly, nothing about the immiseration of the lower middle class since 2008.

Plenty of competition at the very rock bottom of retail!

A Koch Oligarch's nightmare.

It is only a nightmare when the rich stop getting richer.

Pretty sure this is what the Kochs want.

Actually, who knows what the Kochs want in the end? After all, Marx too proclaimed the withering away of the state after the means of production became so efficient that a world where the idea from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs would be fundamental.

The Kochs too seem to feel that government can be used as a tool to realize the sort of enlightened vision that only the truly successful can provide to those who are currently unaware of the benefits of allowing the rich to get richer. Until we enter the glorious era promised by the sort of people with vision - and the means to bring it into existence.

"The Kochs too seem to feel that government can be used as a tool to realize the sort of enlightened vision that only the truly successful can provide to those who are currently unaware of the benefits of allowing the rich to get richer."

One of the biggest fails of the ideological turing test I've ever seen.

If you say so. The idea was that the Kochs have spent a considerable amount of effort in convincing everyone possible about the benefits of free market capitalism, in part because of its productivity (particularly when unfettered by regulation). Marx considered the productivity possible through the use of capitalism to be the only way to create a society productive enough to allow all to share in its bounty. This is not actually obscure -it is part of Marx's theory of history.

That two Koch borthers are attempting to improve on Marx is not really a surprise, is it?

"That two Koch borthers are attempting to improve on Marx is not really a surprise, is it?"

Yes, I think it would be QUITE a surprise to the Kochs to hear that their goal is to improve on Marx. Or do you know of a quote from them to that effect?

'Yes, I think it would be QUITE a surprise to the Kochs to hear that their goal is to improve on Marx. '

So, let me be (apparently) the first to introduce you to this framework - 'Market-Based Management (MBM®) enables organizations to succeed in the long term by applying the principles that allow free societies to prosper. Just as upholding values such as free speech, property rights, and progress is important to a healthy, growing society, it is also pivotal in fostering a healthy, growing organization.

By applying the components of a free-market society to Koch Industries through this management philosophy, Charles G. Koch was able to build a successful, multinational company. Over the last 40 years, Koch Industries has grown to have a presence in about 60 countries and currently employs about 100,000 people worldwide. MBM’s proven success in the business world can provide great value to non-profit organizations because, at its essence, it focuses on creating real, sustainable value for society.

There are two main components to MBM, the 10 Guiding Principles and the five dimensions. The 10 Guiding Principles are key to the internal culture of an organization. They are integrity, compliance, value creation, Principled Entrepreneurship™, customer focus, knowledge, change, humility, respect, and fulfillment. When put into action, these principles combine to create a dynamic and positive culture.' https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/about-us/market-based-management/

You are welcome to decide for yourself if this vision is more or less utopian than Marx's, of course. But some people consider themselves visionaries, filled with the need to make the world a much better place.

"The 10 Guiding Principles are key to the internal culture of an organization. They are integrity, compliance, value creation, Principled Entrepreneurship™, customer focus, knowledge, change, humility, respect, and fulfillment. When put into action, these principles combine to create a dynamic and positive culture."

Yeah, that sounds like a pretty standard list of business principles. I just don't see the links to Marx or utopian overtones (and I'm pretty sure the Kochs don't either). I'd say, 'nice try', but I don't think it rises to that level.

'Yeah, that sounds like a pretty standard list of business principles.'

Apart from this justification, of course - 'Just as upholding values such as free speech, property rights, and progress is important to a healthy, growing society, it is also pivotal in fostering a healthy, growing organization.'

' I just don’t see the links to Marx or utopian overtones'

Well, don't blame me.

'and I’m pretty sure the Kochs don’t either'

Which is why they spend so much money on bringing us all closer to a world where all organizations are able to use free speech, property rights, and progress=?

' I’d say, ‘nice try’, but I don’t think it rises to that level.'

Again, as you wish. But Charles Koch has a vision of a much better world, and a philosophy to to create it. As noted by the Economist - 'It was as an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s that he first fell in love with ideas. There he hit on the subject that has preoccupied him since: why some human organisations flourish while others stagnate. He gorged on the Austrian school of economics—F.A. Hayek, Joseph Schumpeter and, his personal favourite, Ludwig von Mises, Hayek’s mentor. He devoured American polemicists such as F.A. “Baldy” Harper, whose treatise of 1957, “Why Wages Rise” (because of productivity improvements by workers, not union action), he describes as “life-changing”.

Since then his reading has taken him far and wide. The bookshelves in his office are stuffed with works of history, biographies and the latest titles with big ideas. He is surprisingly keen on Howard Gardner, a quintessential Harvard-Yard liberal, and his theory of multiple intelligences (linguistic, musical and interpersonal among them). But Mr Koch found the answer to his question about how organisations prosper by reading the classical liberals: he regards the “spontaneous order” of the free market—the notion that systems are best left to correct naturally, free of human intervention, with the price mechanism allocating resources to the most efficient use—with the same awe with which he regards the natural order of the universe.

Mr Koch has used his reading to forge a theory of management which the Charles Koch Institute, his think-tank-cum-philanthropic outfit, has trademarked as market-based management or MBM. The main idea is that market signals should operate just as vigorously within organisations as between them. Workers should be paid according to the value they add rather than their position in the hierarchy. Koch Industries keeps base pay low (it is regarded as just a down-payment on the year’s value-added reward) and workers are often paid more than their bosses. Companies should grant “decision rights” to those employees who have records of making choices that boost profits.' https://www.economist.com/news/business/21711504-his-theory-management-inspired-austrian-school-economic-thought-worked-wonders

"Just as upholding values such as free speech, property rights, and progress is important to a healthy, growing society, it is also pivotal in fostering a healthy, growing organization."

So, let me get this straight -- your position is that the those innocuous values (free speech, property rights, progress, growth) which I thought pretty much everybody across the political spectrum approved (and which are expressed in the U.S. constitution and bill of rights) are clear signs of Marxism and Utopianism? Seriously? If I were you, I'd keep googling. I'm sure one of the Kochs must have said something, somewhere, sometime that you can misconstrue as sinister more successfully than what you've dug up so far.

The first thing we do, let's eat all the rich.

A small $1 package at a time.

I was thinking of starting at $4.99 a pound for Warren Buffett ground or stew meat (old aged tough); $6.99 for JayZ roast, . . .

You offering to carve?

Todd Vasos, CEO:

“The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer.”

That says it all right there.

I'm both a Dollar General and Dollar Tree shareholder. While the article didn't mention this, one of the key expansion strategies by Dollar General has been to expand into one store towns - towns that can realistically only support one store - and to be the first store into those places.

Competitively, it should not be underestimated that one of the big advantages for Dollar General is also convenience. Even in towns with Wal-Mart there is often a Dollar General closer, and you can usually get in and out quickly. DG has been rapidly expanding "coolers" into more stores to provide more refrigerated and frozen items for day to day needs also. My impression from visiting the stores in the small town where my Dad lives is that a lot of people stop in for the convenience of picking up a few things quickly.

Convenience and value is also what is driving a lot of Amazon traffic. However, I expect this to be one of the most challenging demographics for Amazon to conquer.

Its actually pretty interesting to think about the parallel success of both Dollar General and Amazon in retail.

I think something funny happened, first with Amazon, then the dollar stores, in their impact on conventional bargain stores (say, Target).

As people shifted to Amazon for cheap purchases, Target saw sales volumes of those decline, or even intentionally stocked higher priced goods as a reaction. This kept margin and same store sales up. Now the dollar stores peel off more that Target just wont carry.

Consider something simple like a cheap plastic bucket. The dollar store will have one for a dollar. So what will Target do? Probably drop their $3 bucket and start with a nicer one at $5.

In my hood, sort of, the $tore is next to the Kmart and they sell different stuff. Both do a brisk business.

Target is not cheap.

I think it used to be that Target and Kmart had similar things, but Target did it with more style and made it a more positive experience that way.

Target, DW13-RB 12 cup Mr. Coffee $19

Kmart, DW13-NP 12 cup Mr. Coffee $21

Amazon, BVMC EVX23 12 Cup Mr. Coffee $20 (free shipping)

For whatever that is worth.

Dollar General stores have become magnets for robberies, taking the place of the 7-11 convenience store for this dubious distinction. I'm not sure why. We typically associate Dollar General stores with small town (read, poor) America, so one might imagine the stir when a Dollar General was proposed for my affluent low country community. NIMBY efforts to stop large residential development have been singularly unsuccessful (property rights and all that, the all that being the favors offered the local politicians), but thus far have resisted the invasion of the less than affluent who might shop at a Dollar General. When it came to light that Dollar General was seeking approval for the store, I thought they were lost; after all, my affluent neighbors wouldn't be caught in the dead of night in such a lowlife place. But I was mistaken. Many of my affluent neighbors aren't if truth be known, and that's especially true for the relatively young couples with a 95% mortgage on their over-priced house and two leased luxury cars. Reality and perception often provide contrasts rather than mirror images. Dollar General: it's not just for your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to shop.

robberies, taking the place of the 7-11 convenience store for this dubious distinction.

Didn't Southland Corp(most 7-11s)lose this distinction some years ago through a massive campaign(many many lights, cameras, receipts over $100 deposited to locked boxes, etc). Dollar General will do the same.

Then there is the anchor bias: once you buy toothpaste, soap, deoderant, shampoo, dental floss, ibuprofen, ramen, aluminum foil, batteries, etc for a buck each it's hard to think rationally about opportunity cost and pay $5 for whatever. I go to the $tore for all those items and more, and then walk 150 ft to the Kmart, if needed.

Almost any other non-food item I use Amazon, eBay, or Costco.

Right now, life is pretty good. The only thing anyone needs is a full time job.

That said, where we get f***ed is energy, water, and housing - all areas where the gov and the rent seekers work together.

Dollar General build out, away from other shopping. They are often the only, other than convenience stores, stores with in 5 miles or so. They are often the first movers in the "gentrifying" of a exurb/rural area with shopping.

As such, they are a lone store, in a lightly patrolled area, usually not at a crossroads where convenience stores watch over each other. A target for the opportunist robbers.

"I thought they were lost; after all, my affluent neighbors wouldn’t be caught in the dead of night in such a lowlife place. But I was mistaken. "

You know, it's just possible that some of your apparently affluent neighbors actually are affluent but also aren't snobs when it comes to shopping and like bargains.

>The article attributes much of the success of the chain to its location decisions, such as opening near churches, schools, highways, and post offices.

Being a store for the poor during the Obama administration certainly didn't hurt.

+1

Again, if we can count on anything, we can count on idiot partisans to ignore economic cycles and prefer presidential terms.

So that is what America has become, Dollar General stores. When I was young, we were sending people to the Moon, we were making cars, building infrastructure, making TV sets and other cutting edge eletronic devices, winning wars, educating our children. Our industry used to be envied. Politics were dignified by people of the highest morals standards. I can't imagine Generals Washington and Eisenhower twittering about war and fake news and their opposition.

How old are you? Before Gulf War I, the most recent war the USA won ended in 1945.

Um . . . Washington and Eisenhower were not politicians. Although Ike studied theatrics under MacArthur.

We won Granada, we won the war against the Dominican Republic (1965), we defeated Panama, we defeated the Cubans in Zaire, we bombed Lybia with impunity, we repelled Northern Korean aggression in 1950.

"Washington and Eisenhower were not politicians". Neither as Trump. But all three became presidents. Wahington and Ike were true leaders, dignified.

+1. Ike was the first politician to smile. Before deciding to run for president he was more famous for his scowl.

What about Benjamin Franklin? https://www.google.com.br/search?q=ben+and+me&oq=ben+and+me&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l3.8156j0j9&client=tablet-android-samsung&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=shOxHpkRYV36QM:

FDR smiled. Lincoln could crack a joke. Coolidge didn't smile but he was funny. C'mon, politicians are human and they get elected by appealing to other people. Ike was not the first politician to smile.

Ben Franklin, who was hilarious, was not a politician.

"FDR smiled. Lincoln could crack a joke. Coolidge didn’t smile but he was funny. C’mon, politicians are human and they get elected by appealing to other people"

But how many Americans have ever seen Jefferson?
"Ben Franklin, who was hilarious, was not a politician."
Then why he presided Pennsylvania?

Meanwhile, according to Rep. Tom Massie, the US will spend more in Afghanistan this year than the military budgets of either the UK or Germany.

Obviously the UK and Germany should raise their military budgets and get into Afghanistan*. Particularly the UK, the Afghans won the 1st 2nd and 3rd Anglo Afghan Wars. This time it will be different!

*Afghanistan the graveyard of Empires

Dollar General is my first stop if I need something like packaging materials or kitchen gadgets. Same quality as elsewhere, much better price. Not ashamed to shop there regularly nor of being a working class white on government assistance (if my VA disability check and retirement check count as government assistance). This elite notion that bargain shoppers are some kind of low, icky life form provides yet another data point explaining the rise of populism.

Dollar General, Walmart, et al serve the needs of those with limited means. Dollar General recognizes that their customers cannot afford the 128 container of xyz nor the 40-pack of toilet paper, paper towels or whatnot.

If society (i.e., the voters) does not care about those less fortunate, I am thankful that there are companies like Dollar General.

They are successful because they fill an unmet need. Just as pawnshops and other business. Do some of these businesses take advantage of the poor? Yep. Does Dollar General... probably not. Why not? Because they couldn't have met with so much success if they abused their customer base.

BTW: Talk to the less advantaged. You might be surprised by their struggles and what they go through to simply survive. Most of us are living lives of abundance have no idea how hard life is for the many who were dealt a crappy hand and are playing it the best they can.

No, I don't work for Dollar General and never had. And, no I don't own a position in the company and never did.

couldn’t have met with so much success if they abused their customer base.

It works for Microsoft.

Says you!!

My wife and I love going into Fairfax County on the weekends and shopping at Dollar Tree, which has many locations there despite Fairfax County frequently leading the USA in average household income. Everything is actually $1, which I don't believe is the case at Dollar General.

At one point in Falls Church there was a knockoff run by Central American immigrations called Dollar Tren. I believe it was purchased by Asian immigrants and renamed Dollar Train.

The argument has been put forward that the poor — particularly the urban poor — live in a food desert, meaning that they are served by stores selling expensive but high calorie stuff.

Well, I went into a dollar store a while back to see what was on offer (normally I shop at Costco for basics, an excellent green grocer for produce, and a good local butcher for meat). We have a mini van and buy toilet paper, light bulbs, etc etc practically by the crate).

I was pleasantly surprised. The prices were good and the quality was fine: I bought aluminum foil, chicken, tandoori spices, toothpaste for the fussiest of our kids, milk, butter and a bag of apples. This store was filled with low income people shopping for normal stuff. (It was in the mid morning so most were sober, but there was a shrieking guy in a trench coat and a dude outside on the sidewalk lighting dollar bills one at a time. The urban underclass is complex and simple at the same time: there’s a lot of crazy and that craziness pretty idiosyncratic.)

But I think the store was well stocked with fresh stuff and the prices were good. I’ve been back there but I’d probably not go on a Sat evening.

The concept of a food deserts has been thoroughly debunked.

See : http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/12/political-incorrect-paper-day-food-deserts.html for example.

They are cheap but their inventories are low. Not exactly Aldi's.

I mean selection is low. No fresh foods.

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