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Deal-seeking shoppers know they can go to Dollar Tree to get odds and ends for just a buck apiece. They go to Dollar General to get everyday needs at low prices. And they go to Family Dollar to… get depressed about how disheveled and disorganized it is?

Family Dollar management is acknowledging that many of its stores have become less than appealing, with unclean aisles, unstocked shelves, unattractive product assortment and unmotivated employees. So it’s promising to pick up the pace of some much-needed makeovers to help turn things around and bring disaffected shoppers back.

Dollar Tree, which owns Family Dollar, says it has renovated more than 800 out of the more than 8,000 Family Dollar stores, and plans to renovate at least 1,000 more in each of the next two years. Tired, old stores have caused Family Dollar to be a drag on the parent company’s profits, a trend that company officials are pledging to reverse. “This is our opportunity to make meaningful change at Family Dollar,” Dollar Tree CEO Gary Philbin told investors last week.

Last month, Philbin acknowledged to the Wall Street Journal that turning around Family Dollar’s fortunes is taking more work than he first thought when Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar a few years ago. Mere cosmetic changes like decluttering aisles, straightening up items on the shelves and waxing the floors haven’t had much of an impact. “We have to do renovations,” he said. “That is a little clearer to me than when we started out.”

The renovations involve “cleaner stores, greater values on the items our customers buy most often, improved product assortments, more consistent in-stocks and better customer service,” Philbin explained earlier this year. As for which specific stores are getting makeovers, “we have an old fleet of stores and we’ve targeted some of the oldest in the fleet,” Philbin said.

To hear some customers’ complaints, it would appear that their local Family Dollar stores ought to be at the top of the list.

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“No one takes pride in keeping the stores clean or stocked properly… The aisles are so cluttered and unorganized you can’t get a cart through. And lots of empty shelves,” one customer wrote recently on Family Dollar’s Facebook page. “All the employees cuss in front of customers, the store is incredibly dirty, and the aisles are always blocked off by rusty racks and unpacked boxes,” another complained. “This company is a poop show all the way around! Based on the level of service they provide and the junk quality of some of the stuff they sell, they will be out of business shortly,” a third commenter predicted.

With comments like those, it’s hard to believe that Family Dollar was once considered a hot property. The chain was the subject of a bidding war back in 2014 between Dollar Tree and Dollar General. Dollar General wanted to convert Family Dollar locations into Dollar General stores, but Dollar Tree ultimately won the prize, with a promise to keep Family Dollar operating as a standalone business.

Dollar General seems to have shrugged it off, as it continues to open its own new stores, while Dollar Tree is still struggling to make something of its investment.

The Family Dollar turnaround plan involves more than just store renovations. The company also hopes to make changes from the ground up, by doing a better job retaining employees and getting them more involved and interested in their store’s success. “When we have store managers leave us before one year,” Philbin said, “that tends to show up in stores and that lack of consistency.”

The company is also working to modernize the shopping experience, by promoting its digital coupons and Family Dollar app. Since the introduction of “Smart Coupons” two years ago, more than 6 million Family Dollar shoppers are enrolled in the digital coupon program. And about 3 million have downloaded the Family Dollar app.

Ultimately, “this isn’t rocket science,” Philbin said. “Our team has made progress towards addressing needed investments, but there’s more to be done.”

So if your local Family Dollar is, as that one shopper memorably put it, a “poop show” – here’s hoping your store is on the list of those to be renovated. If not, even digital coupons and freshly-waxed floors may not be enough to turn this troubled chain’s fortunes around.

Image source: Family Dollar

2 Comments

  1. Billy Harper says:

    I can get the cleaned up an stocked very well. Just give me a shout.

  2. Brenda Wood says:

    I woek at family dollar in Cedar City UT. Every day I go ro work I want to scream. I work for hrs on clean up the clothing isles and and organizing..just to come in the next day to see it destroyed again. Not to mention NO ONE takes responsibilitie for the go baxks or the filthy floors. I am a closwe and I get stuck doing this suff every night because the youger employees wont do and are not made to do it. Upper management needs to gut off their butts and make sure store managers get the trainig they need and deserve. Another reason its so mwssy is because we employees do not get enough hours to gwt our work done.

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