General Merchandise

A Dollar for Your Thoughts

Dollar Store Expo draws diverse crowd in Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- The fourth annual Dollar Store Expo, the tradeshow serving the dollar store channel, drew approximately 1,500 retailers, wholesalers and distributors to the Las Vegas Convention Center June 22 and 23. And more than 400 exhibiting companies displayed more than 15,000 product lines, spanning categories from the traditional (housewares, HBC, office supplies, stationery and general merchandise) to newer hot categories, including hardware, electronics, automotive and consumables.

There's a lot of energy down there [on the floor], said Danny Kole, [image-nocss] president of Los Angeles-based Kole Imports, one of the leading suppliers to the dollar store channel. We are directing orders for over 5,000 different items covering 23 different categories.

It was noticeable on the show floor just how mainstream the dollar trend has been come throughout the retail universe. Dollar Store Expo is designed for retailers who sell product at the $1 to $5 price point. As such, while the majority of retailers attending the show represented the traditional dollar channel, a wide variety of retailers from all channels of trade roamed the floor in search of products that could support dollar initiatives within their formats.

Every channel of trade is in attendanceall the channels that probably thought they'd never want to look at the dollar segment not too long ago, said Kole. We've made inroads with a lot of mainstream retailers here.

Movies U Buy, a vendor selling secondary market (previously viewed) DVDs, has been a regular exhibitor at the NACS Show, but was a first-time Dollar Store Expo exhibitor. Steve Reimer, the company's vice president sales, didn't know what to expect because the company's inventory typically carries a $5.99 tag. He was pleasantly surprised with the amount of business he did at the show. I've been told that the dollar-only price point makes up only about 20% of the overall channel, said Reimer, adding that he also did business with a few grocery chains at the show. It was well worth our while to exhibit.

Larry Charboneau, president and CEO of The Lawrence Group, which produces atlases and maps, also was unable to fit his company's existing product line into the dollar-only segment. But he finds that based on prospective orders, the environment is in a state of flux. We, as manufacturers, are going to adjust, he said after the senior buyer for the 99 Only chain offered to place a single order for 200,000 units.

According to John Del Greco, president of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Only A Dollar chain, which operates 13 stores in Rhode Island, Dollar Store Expo offers the kind of high-quality items that he looks for to stock his shelves. Del Greco's profits are based on a low-margin, high-turn business plan.

Some dollar retailers have traditionally offered lower quality merchandise, said Del Greco, who typically pays about 85 cents for an item he sells at the dollar price point. We go the opposite way. We'd rather spend a little more money and have our customers come back again and again.

The hottest category in his stores? DVDs, said Del Greco. We can't keep them on our shelves. Cartoons, classic movies and TV series are big sellers.

The Dollar Store Expo also marked the launch of Dollar Retailing News, the first and only publication dedicated exclusively to the burgeoning dollar and value channel. Dollar Retailing News is published by CSP Information Group Inc., and is available in digital format at

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