Dollar Bills

Fort Worth takes steps to cut down on proliferation of dollar stores

Fort Worth takes steps to cut down on proliferation of dollar stores

Dollar store
Dollar stores are popular in affluent neighborhoods, too. Courtesy photo

Fort Worth has added regulations that make it a little harder for dollar stores to keep popping up.

In December the City Council voted 8-1 to amend zoning regulations on dollar stores with these two restrictions:

  • New stores must be separated by at least two miles from an existing dollar store.
  • Stores must offer fresh produce, meat and dairy products amounting to at least 10 percent of the floor area.

According to a release from the city of Fort Worth, the new ordinance is designed not only to limit the number of dollar stores but also to increase access to healthy food options in areas where there are few stores.

The ordinance calls dollar stores "small box discount stores," and defines them as stores with less than 10,000 square feet that offer foods and beverages, household products, personal grooming and heath products, and other items.

The ordinance does not affect stores that contain a prescription pharmacy; sell gas; sell specialty food items; or dedicate at least 15 percent of their square footage to fresh foods and vegetables. So if a store is willing to add more fresh foods, it gets cut some slack.

District 8 Council member Kelly Allen Gray, who championed the amendment, says that dollar stores have proliferated particularly in southeast and east Fort Worth.

"We know there are at least 100 of these type of stores beginning at I-35 east over to the Arlington city limit," Gray says in a statement. "With their being located on almost every corner, along with payday lenders, it makes them appear to be predators in our community."

Dollar stores can often be found in poor communities and open so many locations that they crowd out the competition — with the theory being that, if you have many dollar stores in one neighborhood, there’s no incentive for a full-service grocery store to come in.

But City Journal notes that when new supermarkets do open in former food deserts, people don’t necessarily buy healthier food.

"The idea that dollar stores are invaders ignores the fact that these retailers are expanding in neighborhoods that want them," City Journal says. "And the notion that the stores lower the quality of retailers in an area overlooks how they’ve become popular in prosperous neighborhoods, too."

Fort Worth is not alone in this endeavor. Cities such as Tulsa, Birmingham, Mesquite, and most recently De Kalb, Georgia, which just approved a 45-day moratorium on them, have levied zoning provisions to cut down on dollar stores.