While most companies have been forced to close stores across the U.S. as a result of challenges exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, Dollar General has been on the opposite trajectory. The company has been rapidly expanding across the country over the last few years, working its way up as the largest U.S. retailer in terms of outlets. According to Forbes, Dollar General is opening up roughly three new stores each day and now has more than 18,000 locations spread throughout the nation. But amid this extreme growth, the popular discount chain was just forced to close some of its stores due to hazardous conditions. Read on to find out which "critical safety issues" led to the closure of these Dollar General locations.
Dollar General has been under fire for various concerns this year.
Dollar General's rapid growth might highlight its popularity, but the company has faced its fair share of backlash for concerning practices and conditions. Back in April, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture&Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) fined the company after finding "excessive price-scanner errors" at Dollar General locations in the state.
Then in May, a report from Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform and Coming Clean, Inc. revealed that at least 12 products sold by the discount retailer were found to have toxic chemicals.
Just last month, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Dollar General stores in two different stats for "serious hazards" that included padlocked and blocked emergency exit doors.
Now, some Dollar General stores are being shuttered over other safety issues.
The discount chain was just forced to close certain stores.
Now, Dollar General is closing some locations in the U.S. because of hazardous conditions. On July 11, city officials in Euclid, Ohio, ordered the company to immediately shut down one of its stores in the area on Green Road due to conditions inside the business, Cleveland.com reported. "There were so many violations that we closed the store down," Building Commissioner Laura Heilman said during a Euclid city council meeting, per Cleveland.com.
According to the news outlet, another Dollar General store in the city also closed up shop that same day because of similarly concerning conditions. Heilman said commercial properties inspector Doreen Simpson was sent to the second location on Mayfield Road amid inspection of the Green Road store. Simpson "came back to show me the pictures [of the Mayfield Road store's interior] and, in the meanwhile, the store had closed themselves down because they knew she was coming back," Heilman said.
There were several concerning conditions found at these Dollar General stores.
City officials in Euclid said that both Dollar General stores were found to have a number of "critical safety issues," CBS-affiliate Cleveland 19 News reported. These issues included blocked aisles, lack of access to electrical panels, and inaccessible fire extinguishers.
"For example, if there were an electrical fire, the fire department would not be able to access the main disconnect and the City's Code requires that the panel is readily accessible," Keith Benjamin, director of community development for the City of South Euclid, told the news outlet. "Many of the aisles were completely blocked with stock carts, impeding safe exit in the event of an emergency. In addition, fire extinguishers were blocked by the stock carts, rendering them completely useless in the case of a fire."
Other city officials noted that on a consumer level, the stores were unsanitary and had been notified about this for more than a year. "I tell you they shouldn't even have a license to sell food out of it because of the filth, the nastiness," Ruth Gray, president for Euclid's city council, said, per Cleveland.com. After a recent visit to the Green Road store on July 3, Gray said, "If I had a dog, I wouldn't even let my dog eat off of that floor. It's that filthy."
These locations might never reopen.
During the city council meeting, Heilman said the Dollar General locations will be closed "until further notice," and it will be up to the stores to call city officials "when they feel it's cleaned up enough and the hazards are removed to have a re-inspection." The commissioner said that, as far as she knows, both stores are corporate-owned.
"So, both of our dollar stores are closed for the moment," Heilman said, per Cleveland.com. "I don't know when they will reopen. That will be up to them to clean the stores and remove all the hazards."
Unfortunately, that means the two Dollar General stores could stay closed permanently. According to Heilman, both locations are leased and in buildings that have no external or structural problems—so the conditions that led to the closures of the two stores were a direct result of the discount chain. "If they don't clean up the stores, they can never reopen, and that's fine, too, because I'm sure someone else would take the space," Heilman said.
In a statement to Cleveland 19, Dollar General said it is hoping to remain in the area. "We are disappointed our store standards at these locations fell short of both our customers' and our own expectations, and we hope to re-open to serve our customers and the South Euclid neighborhood soon," a spokesperson for the company said. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and remain committed to being a positive business partner and good community neighbor."