Colusa County will soon be getting its third Dollar General store after the Williams City Planning Commission approved a design review and site plan Monday night.
The commission voted 4-1 to approve the store, proposed for the location of Vann and Ruggieri Way in Williams. The plan proposed a 9,100 sq. ft. metal building with a combination of lap siding and metal, and brick wainscoting along the bottom perimeter of the building.
“They have proposed goose neck lighting, which will have a nice touch,” said Monica Stegall, City Planner. “It won’t be your typical Dollar General look.”
“This is what we call our new level 5 prototypes. It is the highest design store that we currently build,” said Mike Feeley, representative of Dollar General. “This is our showcase store.”
Commissioner Marcy Voorhees asked if it was going to have a similar look to the Arbuckle store.
“It will be significantly enhanced in design. This store is nearly identical to the store that we completed in Weed, CA,” said Freely. “It has kind of western theme using lap siding and decorative lighting to enhance the store’s look.”
However, the Williams store will have the same square footage as the Arbuckle and Colusa stores.
Parking & Traffic
Voorhees brought up the concern with large vehicles parking on Vann Street near the proposed area.
“I can’t count the times I have almost been clipped by an outgoing car from Carl’s Jr. because they can’t see traffic coming through,” said Voorhes. “Are we going to consider no parking along that section of roadway to open it up since we will have an increase in traffic?”
Stegall replied the matter was brought to the attention of staff.
“This is definitely something we are going to look into and discuss with staff,” said Stegall. “I also believe that along Ruggieri Way it is a no truck parking zone.”
Commissioner Don Parsons added the problem wasn’t just the trucks.
“It’s any large vehicle parking along that section of roadway. It should be a red zone for the safety of everyone,” said Parsons.
As part of the design and plan permitting, the Commission asked Dollar General to provide a traffic study.
“In the staff meeting, there were some concerns with traffic, and would it warrant a signalization of E and Vann Street,” said Stegall. “Dollar General did provide a traffic study, and it concluded a traffic signal was not warranted at that intersection at this time.”
Williams Mayor Alfred Sellers questioned the business practice.
“They call it Dollar General, so I was wondering when you go in there it doesn’t seem to be a dollar. So I was wondering why is that?” said Sellers. “Why do they call it a Dollar Store when it seems to be anything but a dollar store.”
Freely followed up the Dollar General is a general variety store.
“So basically when Dollar General was founded 50 or 60 years ago, there were no dollar stores. We have the same confusion wherever we go,” said Feeley. “It is not a dollar store; everything is priced competitively in its market.”
According to the company’s website, Dollar General delivers every day low prices on seasonal items, housewares, cleaning supplies, health and beauty products, grocery and other perishable items customers need and replenish most often. The company also claims to have over 2,000 items priced $1 or less.
Commissioner Sajit Singh questioned the existing stores in the county and the viability of the new store.
“Say the market isn’t able to support these stores. I am concerned about having an empty store in the future. Say if Arbuckle outperforms Williams, and we are left with an empty store?” said Singh.
Feeley replied that Dollar General does an extensive market study.
“Typically the prime market for a Dollar General is more than 10 miles from a big box retailer,” said Feeley. “The nice thing about dollar general they are a large scale chain and when one store struggles they all pitch in.”
“We’ve done over 70 stores, and none of them have closed,” he added.
Dollar General is committed to a 30-year lease.
“The stores themselves, as a developer, we build it, and Dollar General comes in on a 30-year lease. If for some reason they go out on that lease, the stores are designed so they can be retrofitted to another retailer,” said Freely. “If they fail to complete the lease term, they are still on the hook for the lease payments. It’s a great tool to ensure they make it work.”
Singh questioned the strategic plan of Dollar General.
“We’re actually 10 miles from another Dollar General, times two,” he said.
“Yeah, that works for them,” Freely replied. “Dollar General is not a regional draw. We are not attracting customers from Arbuckle. We’re not pulling people off the freeway. It’s more like a community store.”
After discussion, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to approve the Dollar General Review and Site Plan Permit.
Commissioner Singh explained his no vote was for insufficient information on the traffic study, and on the impact of the semi trucks that may affect the intersection of E and Vann streets when the Love’s Truck station is completed.
Stegall commented the next steps for Dollar General is to submit their construction plans for review and apply for building permits.
Feeley did not say when construction would begin or the new store could open.