Plans for a new 8,000 square-foot discount store in Marion, which was expected to get underway in July or August, are now on hold.
Josh Braverman, communications director with Family Dollar, headquartered in Matthews, N.C., said last week the corporation is re-evaluating its proposal for the Marion area.
“There are many factors that go into deciding whether or not to build a store in a given location,” Braverman said. “It is not an individual decision.”
Not all plans are on hold, he said, with the company moving ahead on opening 450 to 500 stores nationwide in 2012.
When asked if the company would consider other options in Marion, Braverman said they are “always looking at areas to locate stores and would be open to new suggestions in any market.”
Braverman did not say why Family Dollar plans aren’t materializing in Marion just yet.
“We look to put our stores in communities that could benefit from the value and convenience we offer to our customers,” he said. “While right now we’ve put our plans on hold, it doesn’t mean we won’t try again.”
Disappointed, but hopeful
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said Monday when he learned the project was off the table, it was a let-down.
“Yes, it’s disappointing,” he said, “but encouraging it might still be.”
Kjellin said even before the Duckwall store closed in Marion Jan. 11, 2011, Marion Economic Development Inc., also known as MEDI, was already contacting the major discount stores such as Family Dollar, Dollar General and Pamida.
Dollar General, he said, initially looked at Marion in mid-2009, but the corporation decided there was already too much competition with the Duckwall Store and Carlson’s Grocery in town.
Another nationally recognized department store, Pamida, was also contacted, but when officials said they would only pursue the project if they could buy out the local pharmacy, Kjellin said, the community was no longer interested.
Developer visits Marion
At first, Family Dollar had no plans to build a store in Marion, Kjellin said, but it was because of one business owner’s determination that a deal was struck with the company in April.
“Greg (Carlson) started calling the developer once a month and asking him not to forget us,” Kjellin said. “Then four months ago, MEDI gave a tour of the town and, at that time, we had gotten it.”
Carlson, in an interview after Family Dollar announced it was coming, said Marion needed another retail store after Duckwall’s closed.
“I called the corporate office and they put me in touch with the real estate developer in Wichita and a Family Dollar person in Colorado,” he said. “We rode around with them last fall and showed them some possible sites.”
The real estate developer submitted information to the Colorado contact and not long after that, he said, an offer was made on Aunt Bee’s, which was to be the site of the new store.
Developer visits Marion
According to Kjellin, it is typical for the developer to do the footwork for the company.
“The developer looks at all the property (in a specific area) and puts a package together for the company,” he said. “The real estate committee (for Family Dollar) would then give a preliminary ‘yes,’ to proceed, which is what happened in Marion’s case.”
From that point, the developer gets a contract for ground, starts talking about permits and what it will take to build the store.
“(The developer) would then go back for final consideration,” Kjellin said, “with the real estate committee of Family Dollar saying either yes, no or wait.
“I believe we got the ‘wait,’” he said.
Kjellin said he believes the city is on a 90-day review cycle and the Family Dollar real estate committee will be looking at Marion in October or November.
“It will be taken off the table and decided on what they want to do,” he said. “But, it’s not a dead issue.”