Grove residents speak out against Dollar General
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 5:18 AM
COLUMBUS GROVE - At a hearing held Monday night a group of citizens came to the municipal building in Columbus Grove to express their concerns with a Dollar General possibly being built on State Route 65 next to the Subway restaurant in town.
This meeting was a preliminary hearing to change the zoning of a lot from industrial to C2 commercial for the building of business and a final hearing will be held where the final recommendation will be brought to the council. Although not everyone in the town is against the proposal, the majority of the residents that attended the meeting were, including the planning committee which ultimately voted against the recommendation of building a Dollar General.
The four members of the planning committee were in attendance, Skyler Mayberry, Mark Edelbrock, Donna Smith, and Ken Wright. Also present was the contractor Bob Gage, with GBT Reality the developer for the project and citizens of Columbus Grove. Gage spoke about the proposal stating what the Dollar General will offer. "In the past there has been a few concerns with people (in town) that this is going to put them out of business. A number of the (Dollar General) stores have been built in small towns and some locations have been right next to a "mom and pop" grocery store and has very little impact on those stores," claimed Gage. "I would dispute any claims that this business would run any local stores out of business," stated Gage. Although Gage defended the fact Dollar General is not a threat to the small businesses, he still had no facts or evidence about a Dollar General not running a small store out of business.
The members of the community disputed what Gage said and began with their questions. One resident spoke up asking "do you have any data about your claim of not running small businesses out?" Gage answered back claiming "The data I have is history from our company, and it's not with me." The resident then said "I would like to see that data, I think the people of Columbus Grove would like to see that data prior to making a decision." The same resident asked "what happens if you come to Grove and the store doesn't take off, then we are stuck with the store." Gage answered by saying "Dollar General has done enough research on this area to make sure it will do fine. I do have a 15 year lease for this building, so once we get through the permitting process they will be here for a minimum of 15 years."
One important topic that was brought up was whether or not Dollar General would give back to the local community. According to Gage "Dollar General is very heavy into local charity events, they do fund raisers and contribute to the literacy council." A resident did report that he knew of Dollar General giving back as he worked for a literacy council. Council member Pete Langhals shared his opinion on the charity matter "Something people should keep in mind, I think the small town local businesses have more impact in the village itself and a chain store would be more impacting on a national level."
A resident who spoke in favor of the Dollar General said "I honestly and truly as a consumer do not think it (Dollar General) would hurt these businesses because the people that are going to shop at Dollar General will go to Ottawa but they will still participate in Grove business because we want to keep our town. I could go to WalMart and get my prescriptions but I go to Hawkey's because I want Hawkey's to stay. They are unique and you are not going to find similar things anywhere else."
However local small business owners did not agree with the building of a Dollar General. Ed Cassidy the owner of Hawkey's Pharmacy was present and shared his opinions "It just doesn't make sense that you're going to take the same amount of money and just move it around. Honestly I don't think people just drive to a Dollar General to get stuff, there's nothing you have (Dollar General) that you can't find here (in Columbus Grove) at Hawkey's, Kohl's Market, Carl's Hardware and any convenience store that is in this town."
The planning committee will meet again at a later date for a final decision as they have 30 days to discuss and make that final decision. The final recommendation will be presented to the council and the village council will have the final vote.