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Customer Spotlight: Just a Dollar Stores
Just a Dollar Stores are located 60 miles east of Texarkana, Arkansas. The company owns 12 stores and covers the east Texas region. We spoke with the owner, Harley Lamb, recently about his operation.
We started with six stores, with inventory that consisted of leftover Christmas and toy dollar store merchandise. That was 1994. We had basically a zero bank account and $200,000 in debts.
Our philosophy has been that if you have 100 items, you have 100 chances to sell somebody something. So if you have 5,000 items, we've got 5,000 chances. We try to have as many dollar items as we can. At the same time we try not to butt heads with our competitors. We've got a chain of stores in every town we are in and a lot of the other dollar stores excel in household cleaners and things like that.
We try to have large sections of everything. We do well selling categories like party supplies for all occasions and we are strong in gift wrapping supplies, silk flowers, and balloons. We try to get things for multiple sales, so we put the balloons with the party supplies and the birthday wrapping. We try to have everything the customer needs.
One of our biggest concerns in the last few years has been employee problems. We've had our secretary, Margie Brooks, for the last 25 years. We try to find people that are honest, hard working and who are not trying to find all their happiness or meaning to life in their job. We also try to find well-rounded people that have to work and know that they will have to work all of their life. It seems like it's getting harder to do every year, finding people that want to work and good people with a work-ethic.
We try to open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. so people can still have an evening to do something. We give our employees the same days off each week and we are closed on Sundays. We think that helps a lot.
Another thing that we do is have our employees read and sign the company guideline. [At Just a Dollar] you must treat each customer with respect and dignity without regard to race, color, or creed. We make a living selling dollar store merchandise to customers that they can live without. If a customer is treated rudely in our store, chances are they won't be back. We try to find people that understand that. We also believe that our business wouldn't have gotten off the ground if it wasn't for the help of God working with us and making it happen.
We first met Danny Kole at a trade show in Las Vegas. I was introduced to him by Randy McLemore, the owner of Just a Buck Stores in Louisiana. He introduced me to him and it was shortly after that Danny sent a sales person to meet with us, I think it was in Chicago, and he sold us our first container.
What I like about Danny is he's down-to-earth, not pushy. Even when we are buying closeouts from him, if we get a little over he will tell us, “I don't think you need that many.”
He is just really easy to work with. Everything he said he would do gets done and that really is a blessing.
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