When you think dollar stores, you probably think of Tiki statues, fragile toys, and cheap kitchen implements. But Dollar General is trying to change all that, the Wall Street Journal reports, by taking a real shot at the grocery market. Over the next year, the discount chain intends to open about 40 "Dollar General Markets," offering an array of groceries—including, yes, fresh produce and baked goods—alongside the typical aisles of bric-a-brac. Many will service otherwise deprived "food deserts."
At about 16,000 square feet, the stores will be a lot smaller than your average gigantic suburban supermarket—which can top 150,000 square feet—but about twice the size of an ordinary Dollar General. So far those smaller, grocery-free Dollar Generals are much more profitable, but the company sees food as a key to its long-term growth. It's in a race, the CEO explains, with drug stores like CVS and department stores like Walmart to become "the new general store." (Read more Dollar General stories.)