Dollar General to close Trotwood location in March; neighbors raise concerns over food access

TROTWOOD — Trotwood residents are losing another option for food purchases as Dollar General plans to close a location within the city.

>>2019 REPORT: Foodtown, Trotwood’s last grocery, is closing but new life could be in the offing

A sign posted above the Dollar General location on Salem Avenue near Denlinger Road indicates the store will be closing soon, however employees at the store said a closing date hasn’t been set. A Dollar General spokesperson told News Center 7 Tuesday the store plans to close in late March.

>>Lawmakers weigh bill to give federal government more power to crack down on price gouging

Trotwood is already facing limited options for residents to buy food with the city’s last grocery store, Foodtown, closing in 2019. Trotwood residents say its already hard enough to getting to places miles away to buy food on a regular basis.

“(Dollar General) is the only spot that you can buy food (nearby). With Dollar General closing it is gonna put a hurtin’ on some people,” Sai Epps of Trotwood told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell. “I don’t agree with it. It’s very tough.”

Epps said she already has to travel several miles to get food and the travel is more difficult especially like last week where travel was severely impacted by weather.

“On like snow days and stuff like that when you can’t get far to get food, that’s what hurts,” she said.

The Dollar General spokesperson said decision to close the store was based on several factors.

“Dollar General is always evaluating our stores and how to best serve our customers. We assess a number of factors including location, cost of rent, profitability and age of store, among other things. In the end, keeping this store open didn’t fit into our goal of providing customers with quality service, value and convenience,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Two other Dollar General stores are nearby and within miles of the closed location, about two miles south on Salem Avenue, and a newly-renovated location on East Main Street in Trotwood.

Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald said the store’s closure is another hit for residents of the city who have come to rely on places like dollar stores.

“For many people here in this community these dollar stores are the place that they go to just get their needs met on a daily basis, and they typically have to leave out of the community, which is a challenge in itself,” she said.

McDonald said the city has been in conversations with other grocery chains and Gordon Food Service who operates a location about a mile north of the closing Dollar General location. McDonald said discussions with GFS have been to either expand their current location or open a new one in Trotwood. She added that the company is still analyzing “what the market is going to do.”

Part of the market challenge for businesses like GFS is analyzing the changes brought on by COVID-19, McDonald said.

“COVID-19 has really changed the game in many communities,” she said.

Citizens like James Leakes of Jefferson Twp. says stores leaving like Dollar General are part of a political issue and he called on politicians to do better.

“(Politicians) don’t care about people here,” he told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell.

However McDonald said opening a grocery store, especially in a community like Trotwood, isn’t an easy task.

“What a lot of our citizens don’t know is that grocery stores are a 1 percent profit margin. And it is very, very challenging for someone to want to just open a grocery store in a community. There’s a lot of throw-away, there’s a lot of things that won’t keep. And as a result of that it makes it hard for people who might say ‘well why don’t somebody just open a grocery store,’ it’s just not that easy,” she said.

McDonald said communities like Trotwood face a Catch-22 situation, with the financial challenges for locally-owned stores to open up and be sustainable and the city is also too small population-wise for the larger grocery chains to open up a location.

“Through our Economic Development Department, we found out (larger grocery stores) have a five mile radius that they want to operate in. So that’s pull you five miles this way, pull you five miles that way,” McDonald said.

“And that tends to be a challenge for our community because we sit right in the middle of three large grocery stores. So it pulls our citizens over Dayton, or to Englewood and sometimes to Clayton,” she said.

This story will be updated as we learn more.