DRYDEN, N.Y. — Some 75% of the nation’s population lives within five miles of a Dollar General. The chain is trying to fill in the gaps.

The rapidly-growing discount retailer counts some 16,000 stores in its portfolio, with plans to open 1,000 more during the year 2020, a pace of about twenty per week. One of those appears to be slated for the town of Dryden, on undeveloped space next to Upscale Remodeling at 1410 Dryden Road.

A six year-old Dollar General already exists on the north end of the village of Dryden at 169 North Street, and another opened just a couple of years ago in the town of Lansing at 1989 East Shore Drive. The proposed location at 1410 Dryden Road falls between them, a little over seven miles to either store, or about a fifteen-minute drive.

The Broadway Group, an Alabama-based firm that handles most of Dollar General’s expansion plans, is in charge of the application to be reviewed by the Dryden town Planning Board. Plans call for a 9,100 square-foot store (70′ x 130′ building), the exact same size as the one in Dryden village.

However, one thing that will set it apart from the village’s Dollar General is that it rolls out a new corner entry design that started to hit community planning boards last year. An example of this is the new store at 101 Old Ithaca Road in Horseheads. Tweak the exterior materials a little bit and you’ll have an idea of what the new Dryden location will look like.

Somewhat more unusual is the proposed site plan for the 1.70 acre project. In an effort to follow the recommendations of the NYS Route 13/366 Corridor Management Plan, instead of building a second curb cut into Route 13, it instead expands the curb cut shared with Upstate Remodeling next door. The project also proposed the usual retinue of landscaping/hardy trees, stormwater facilities, lighting, signage, a dumpster enclosure and parking, in this case 39 spaces (the Environmental Assessment Form says 39 spaces, but the site plan above shows 35). Fagan Engineers of Elmira is handling the civil engineering work.

Unlike many retailers who have struggled in an increasingly internet-based economy, Dollar General has seen profits rise as it focuses on expansion in more rural and/or lower-income areas, where a lack of competing retailers (they prefer to avoid areas with Wal-Marts in close proximity) allows them to carve out a market for themselves. Stores focus on a no-frills offering of household goods, groceries, and bathroom/beauty products; one of their keys to success is by selling things in smaller sizes, where it might cost more per ounce, but the consumers are buying a small enough quanitity that it comfortably fits their budget.

Dollar Generals have proven increasingly controversial in recent years. Several communities have moved to pass moratoriums or outright ban the stores, accusing the company of driving away grocery stores and local businesses. However, it remains the primary discount shopping option in many rural communities, and so the debate over their value to communities continues.

Review by the Dryden Planning Board will take at least a couple of months and the new location would take about seven months to build once approval is granted, so late 2020 or early 2021 is a likely earliest opening date.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.