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Dollar General Introduces New Store Concept Aimed At More Affluent Shoppers

An exterior rendering of Popshelf, Dollar General's store targeting affluent suburbs.

A retailer synonymous with ultra-cheap goods is attempting to court an income bracket that can afford to shop higher-end fare.

Dollar General announced on Thursday the launch of a new store concept called Popshelf explicitly targeting suburban women in households with between $50K and $120K in annual income, according to a press release. The first two Popshelf stores will open in the Nashville, Tennessee, metropolitan area this fall.

Dollar General plans to open 30 Popshelf locations by the end of 2021. They will average 9K SF and stock nonperishable goods like home decoration and cleaning supplies, beauty products and seasonal items like party supplies. Around 95% of products sold at Popshelf will cost $5 or less, the press release states.

The seasonality of stock, plus some limited-run items and sales, are meant to invoke the "treasure hunt" feeling that draw shoppers to off-priced apparel retailers like The TJX Cos. or less specific discounters like Five Below. To keep inventory fresh, Dollar General has hired teams to source products and advertise them on social media, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In the past four years, Dollar General has added thousands of stores, many of them to build on the success the brand has had in rural and/or low-income areas. Comparable store sales rose 19% year-over-year for Dollar General, WSJ reports, part of a demonstrated trend of more customers turning to dollar stores amid economic stress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

An interior rendering of the checkout area in Popshelf, Dollar General's new, more upscale retail concept.

As economic recovery seems more and more like a long-term prospect, Dollar General leadership trusts that even the more affluent consumers it is targeting with Popshelf will remain more cost-conscious than they have in previous years. Dollar General Chief Marketing Officer Emily Taylor told WSJ it anticipates Popshelf's consumer base to value “treating themselves without the guilt associated with overspending.” 

Popshelf will stock some food items under Dollar General's private brands that already had been part of the retailer's standard inventory, but which have recently been redesigned. In this way, Popshelf will be distinct from Dollar General's other spin-off brand, urban convenience store DGX. As with DGX, Popshelf's targeted demographic will not be expected to rely on it for staples like Dollar General's customers sometimes do, to neighborhood activists' chagrin.