”We often take over vacant space in neighborhoods and areas that are already challenged, keeping centers and other adjacent businesses open and serving communities, especially those that are underserved,” Dollar Tree said in a statement.
When Lorraine Cochran-Johnson was first running for a seat as a county commissioner in DeKalb County, Ga., in 2018, dollar stores were not something she paid attention to. But after a woman at a campaign event warned her about the stores’ impact on Black neighborhoods, she began to do some research online and by simply looking around her district, just east of Atlanta.
The stores were mostly in predominantly Black neighborhoods. She also witnessed, over a two-week span, two brazen thefts at the same dollar store.
She talked with one of the cashiers about the crimes. “She told me, ‘This is business as usual,’” Ms. Cochran-Johnson said. “There was a normalcy to this situation that no one should find normal.”
Ms. Cochran-Johnson, a Democrat, was elected to the commission in 2019. The next year, she persuaded the commission to pass a moratorium on dollar store developments in DeKalb County.
The moratorium ended in December, but the county is putting into effect new requirements for dollar stores, including that they install video surveillance in their stores and parking lots and turn over security camera footage to the police within 72 hours of a crime. A new store cannot be within a mile of an existing store, and 10 percent of a store’s shelf space must be dedicated to “healthy foods,” a category that includes frozen vegetables.
“This is about community and creating the best outcomes,” Ms. Cochran-Johnson said.
In its statement, Dollar General said, “We appreciate the positive and ongoing conversations with the county commissioners on ways we can continue to invest in, and provide access to, affordable, everyday essentials, including produce, to DeKalb County residents.”