In last week’s paper, publisher Walter Nicklin asked why there hadn’t been much reaction to a report two weeks earlier that Family Dollar was looking at a property near Union First Market Bank, along Rappahannock County’s U.S. 211 commercial strip.
We barely published his editorial on RappNews.com when reaction came in – in addition to the column by Ben Jones and the letter you’ll find on page 4. We thought we should reprint some of it here, and encourage anyone who’s online to continue the conversation there. Or here in print.
Some excerpts from RappNews.com:
• If that sort of garbage can get into the county, then it’s doomed. Did someone decide to start catering to the “affordable housing” crowd? I’m worried about the day I come back to visit and find Section 8 housing . . .
• I personally believe that seeking the least expensive alternative at a Dollar Store to be a limiting experience. New businesses need to be respectful of the unique character of Rappahannock. On the other hand, I think the county is ill-served by portraying an elitist or intolerant image. Perhaps good and tasteful review by the zoning commission is appropriate . . .
• Maybe Family Dollar is a bit downscale for Rappahannock and the image it tries to maintain. On the other hand I know there are many people living there who aren’t part of the monied crowd and they deserve to have their needs met, too . . .
• I highly doubt there’s a big enough customer base for a Family Dollar store to be viable with less then 7500 residents in the county. The small stores can survive because they sell a varied stock of day to day supplies and food, but I just don’t see the county population buying enough to be viable for Family Dollar. Another point is that everybody has to go to a town for their main food shopping trips anyway, and they all have a Dollar Store, or equivalent. The only franchise I see as viable here is a 7-11, but we already have equivalent convenience stores, and splitting the available customers wouldn’t be enough for either to survive.
• I am not a resident of Rappahannock, but my daughter is. I drive 180 miles to see my grandson and find it quite disconcerting that if I want to do something as simple as bake cookies for him, I must travel at least 15-20 miles one way. I know this, because my daughter didn’t have a cookie sheet, and though I hit every little convenience store, antique store and gift shop from the Sperryville/Washington area, I was unable to find what I needed. The poor child had to wait until I went home and sent cookies through the mail. As to the comment that 7,900 people couldn’t support a Family Dollar, I assure you they could. The township where I live in PA has only 2,500 people and is within 7 miles of a galleria and major shopping district, yet our Dollar General thrives. With the high cost of gas, it seems to me that the good people of Rappahannock County, both monied and poor would be well-served by the Family Dollar.