Family Dollar A Haven For Bargain Hunters

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"We'll have almost everything Wal-Mart has, only at much lower prices."

Quite a boast. But that's the promise of Michelle Frizzell, manager of the Family Dollar store that will open Thursday in the old Sears building on the northeast corner of Highway 87 and Bonita Street.

"If Wal-Mart has it, more than likely, we will have it," Frizzell said. "About the only thing you won't be able to get here is computer stuff and CDs. We will have videos, lots of clothing, pillows, comforters, health and beauty aids, household chemicals and paper products, housewares and giftware, hardware, auto supplies ... you name it."

The local store, part of a North Carolina-based chain, is the 40th to open in Arizona and the 4,189th to open nationally.

The company's corporate management selected Payson as a site, Frizzell said, because "they liked the area and thought it would be a good business opportunity. And now that we're here, it also provides the community with a great employment opportunity, and just generally a fun place to work."

Despite the implication of it's name, Family Dollar isn't what's known in the retail industry as a "true" dollar store, in which all goods are sold for $.99 or $1. Family Dollar stores are more like the five-and-dime variety stores of the 1950s. They sell similar goods at deep discounts, but prices vary.

According to the company's website, the 43-year-old Family Dollar which operates in a contiguous 39-state area ranging northeast to Maine, southeast to Florida, as far northwest as South Dakota and southwest to Arizona is one of the fastest growing discount store chains in the United States.

The first Family Dollar store was opened in Charlotte, N.C. in 1959. It was a relatively small, self-service operation located in a neighborhood convenient to low- and middle-income consumers. Since that time, sufficient refinements have been made to create a corporation which, in the year 2000, raked in annual sales of $3 billion. It has also evolved into a publicly held company with common stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Next week's grand opening of the the local store will begin at 9 a.m. with state and national Family Dollar associates taking part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony promptly followed by a likely slew of bargain-hunting shoppers taking advantage of special Grand Opening sale prices.

"Family Dollar looks forward to locating in Payson and being part of a fine community," Bruce Barkus, senior vice president of store operations, said.

The Payson Family Dollar store to be operated entirely by one manager, two assistants, and five cashiers and stockers will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

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