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Customer Spotlight: Country Dollar Stores
After opening their first dollar store in April 2001, Country Dollar now has five stores located in the Columbus, Ohio area. We spoke with owner Steve Kenney about his experiences.
Q: What was your background before you entered the dollar store business?
Kenney: I was a director of a software company and my wife worked for the United Dairy Association. So we were both professionals.
Q: But no real association with the dollar store business?
Q: Why did you get into this business?
Kenney: I wanted to do something for my family, because my dad has had his own business for 40 years. The desire to do something and his guidance in the business [were the deciding factors.] We opened the first store and it did really well, so now we have 5 stores.
Q: Did you look at any other businesses besides this one?
Kenney: We looked into Christian book stores. We also looked at franchises for a sandwich type place.
Q: What do you like about the business?
Kenney: There are a lot of good things about it. It provided the opportunity to work for ourselves and that was our objective. Working with a log of great people on the vendor side, we have been able to establish a lot of good relationships. We like that part of the business quite a bit.
Q: Is there anything you don't like?
Kenney: It is a lot of work! And it's a lot of merchandise to go through. That was something we didn't see when we first got started but now we have a warehouse. We are slowly getting bigger.
Q: Do you have any specific focus in your stores?
Kenney: Party supplies and dollar store stuff. The difference between our store and others is that we are very clean, organized, we don't use wire baskets and we very rarely put things in boxes on the floor. So everything is taken out and stocked properly. We have a lot of people say that they can't believe that everything is a dollar because it is so organized and good merchandise. We will spend the extra dime and get the good merchandise. It's about Merchandising--read our Art and Science of Display Newsletter.
Q: What do you think the key has been for you to be able to go from zero to 5 dollar stores so quickly?
Kenney: Good concepts. This area is very hard to compete because of the many dollar stores in the area. We've been successful because of our store concepts and our wonderful customer service.
Q: Do you see a lot of repeat customers?
Kenney: Yes, but we still get new customers every day. We are going to move one of our smaller stores into a Wal-Mart center and are having all kinds of sales.
Q: Do you any advertising?
Kenney: Yes, we do advertising on the local radio station. Because we are in a highly competitive market we need to.
Q: Do you plan to open more dollar stores?
Kenney: After we move this one store, we are going to step back for 6 months or a year to focus fully on the business. And then we are planning to open an average of two stores a year.
Q: What is your goal?
Kenney: [We would like to] have around 10 to 15 stores.
Q: How did you find Kole Imports?
Kenney: Basically through Charlie at the show. We did enough business that after a while we got to know them pretty well. They've been very good to us and have helped us out in every way they could.
IMPORTS, 24600 Main Street, Carson, CA 90745