Morro Bay and Los Osos residents sounded off on the popular social media website Next Door in recent weeks that they were looking forward to welcoming a trendy Aldi grocery store or perhaps a Trader Joe’s to the vacant Cookie Crock space on Quintana Road.
Instead of one of those higher-end retailers, however, Morro Bay will get a double dose of dollar stores.
Morro Bay Community Development Director Scot Graham confirmed that Dollar Tree has taken out a permit to convert the existing 20,000-square-foot store into two side-by-side discount stores, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.
Both brands are owned by Dollar Tree, the nation’s largest discount variety retailer with nearly $6 billion in sales. Between the two, the company has some 15,000 stores across the country.
That includes a current location already in Morro Bay, just down the block.
Graham said he has been told that the existing Dollar Tree will relocate to the new site later this summer in a larger space that is about double the existing 5,000-square-foot store, with lots more parking than it has now.
In recent weeks, the Cookie Crock owners have been busy clearing the space and disposing of the fixtures, with a goal to finish by the end of July. The store closed in May.
At the Morro Bay Dollar Tree, staff said they have heard the rumors but had no firm information from their managers that it was true.
The success of dollar stores appears to be in part their willingness to go to smaller towns in rural America with no competing big-box stores like Walmart nearby to sell a line of everyday discount products. As the retail recession has prompted more storefront vacancies, it has been the dollar stores who have been willing to move in.
“Trader Joe’s told us there just wasn’t enough traffic here to warrant them coming to Morro Bay,” Graham said.
Still, the unusual thing about this plan is that the company would consider putting in two side-by-side dollar stores, he said. At least that is what they show in their plans now.
Dollar Tree bought the Family Dollar chain more than 3 years ago and continues to add new stores under both brands. At the same time, Dollar Tree announced recently that it was closing as many as 390 Family Dollar stores in 2019 following 85 closings in the fourth quarter of 2018.
In its most recent quarterly report, same-store sales at Dollar Tree were up 3.2% while Family Dollar saw an increase of 1.4%.
Family Dollar, unlike Dollar Tree, sells the majority of its products for more than $1 and offers a wider selection of well-known brands. Family Dollar often has a selection of fresh food that includes milk, eggs, and cheese but no fruit or vegetables.
All of the chain’s discount dollar stores on the Central Coast are Dollar Trees, while in the San Joaquin Valley most of the company stores are Family Dollar locations.