Wilkins’ keys to success with Dollar General
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — To deliver the value of a supercenter with the convenience of a drug store — that is the essence of the Dollar General strategy.
Dollar General VP/DMM consumables and personal care Mike Wilkins told attendees at the Mack Elevation Forum in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 11 that the company looks for vendor suppliers who can help leverage Dollar General’s unique assets, including its 1 million Facebook fans and its exclusive Rexall brand. Dollar General also is looking for vendor suppliers that can deliver new insights, bring in new items that can be sold in store or online, and create promotional and celebrity events.
Dollar General’s model flourishes in good and bad economies, Wilkins explained. The chain has seen 22 consecutive years of same-store sales growth. It also has continued to evolve its store formats, both in terms of assortment and overall experience, to keep the model fresh and relevant. In addition, Dollar General has expanded consumables — specifically food, snacks and perishables — as well as HBC and pet supplies, to broaden its appeal beyond fill-in and treasure-hunt shoppers to primary-destination shoppers.
“A share group on steroids” — as described by program founder Dan Mack, EVP strategic business development for The Swanson Group — the Mack Elevation Forum brings together executives from noncompeting, mostly smaller and mid-sized companies, to examine critical business issues and learn from shared experiences, successes and failures. The October meeting focused on three key areas — in addition to the keynote from Wilkins — including understanding the DNA of innovative cultures and teams, how to strengthen business and positioning with Dollar General, and optimizing social media execution.
Costco’s lobbying changes WA’s liquor laws: Who is next?
Bootlegging, debauching and murdering its way through the second season, HBO’s Prohibition-themed series “Boardwalk Empire” has dramatized an era alien to its viewers but whose vestiges have remained in much of the country.
Nineteen states are “control states” in which governments have exerted varying degrees of control over the wholesaling or retailing of alcohol since the end of Prohibition, including nine in which the state has an effective or total monopoly on retailing of alcoholic beverages above certain strengths. But last month, 60% of voters in Washington approved a ballot initiative to become a “license state.” Currently, liquor sales are limited to state-owned stores and privately owned stores with special government contracts. But starting June 1, any store with at least 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space can apply for a liquor license, and wholesaling will be privatized.
Issaquah, Wash.-based mass merchandiser Costco Wholesale became not only the initiative’s biggest backer, contributing $22.5 million of the $22.7 million total, but also the biggest single backer of a voter initiative in state history. Questioning whether Costco would get a good return on its investment, Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey estimated it would take 14 years of profits for the company to recoup its donations, and the company also spent millions on a similar initiative last year that failed. But the most lasting effect could be the foundation that Costco, which could not be reached for comment, helped build for challenges to similar laws in other states, such as Oregon, which also has a ballot initiative process. “To see it go 60-40, I don’t think you’d have to duplicate that kind of fight to make it happen in Oregon,” Northwest Grocery Association president Joe Gilliam told Drug Store News.
Another factor that may temper opposition is Washington’s initiative that pitted retailers against beer and wine wholesalers, which had donated to the campaign against the measure. “Now they’re in a situation where their biggest customers were on the other side of the issue,” Gilliam said. “It’s just business, but they’ve got to rebuild those relationships.”
Supporters of privatization have said a major issue is state finances: The Washington State Liquor Control Board reported $870.77 million in liquor sales in fiscal 2010 and said it returned $425.7 million to the state’s coffers in fiscal 2011. But the WSLCB’s overhead related to retail and wholesaling was $86.61 million — a pretty penny in a state with big deficits like Washington. According to the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, a liberal think tank, privatization will increase state and local government revenues by $51 million to $63 million, though that will taper off slightly as licensing fees are reduced after 2014. Meanwhile in Iowa, which privatized liquor sales in 1987, profits on liquor increased by $125 million compared with what they would be if the state had maintained control, according to a 1999 report by the state Alcohol Beverage Division. Private retailers, Gilliam said, are better suited for the liquor business. “We’re totally designed to move cases of product,” Gilliam said. “For the state, it’s a side business.”
Sabra introduces Season’s Finest hummus
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Sabra has introduced a limited-edition hummus product in time for the holiday season.
Made with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt, Sabra Season’s Finest hummus is a gluten-free and certified kosher product and features a specially designed metallic foil packaging.
Season’s Finest hummus can be found in the 17-oz. size at grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest, New England and New York metro area, and in the 25-oz. size at Sam’s Club stores nationwide through early January.