Dollar General’s new $5-and-under pOpshelf stores are popping up all over Middle Tennessee.

First there were the two stand-alone pOpshelf locations that opened in October in Clarksville (2819 Wilma Rudolph Blvd.) and Hendersonville (215 W. Main St.).

Then last week Dollar General opened two combo store-within-a-store pOpshelfs in its DG Markets in Hermitage (4491 Lebanon Rd.) and White House (on Highway 31 West).

And now the company just opened a pOpshelf location at 2421 New Salem Highway in Murfreesboro.

The idea is to offer assorted merchandise, including beauty and seasonal products, trending home decor, party goods, and arts and crafts, with almost everything priced at $5 or less. And the shopping atmosphere is designed to be treasure hunt-like fun with promotions like “wow deals every day” and “tons of fun under $5.”

Dollar General spokesperson Crystal Luce says the new concept has been well received and that the original projections of opening 30 stand-alone stores this fiscal year (ending in January) have been bumped up to 50.

“We have been pleased with customers’ positive initial reactions, and we look forward to welcoming additional customers to experience our newest format,” Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said.

The 16 existing stores are in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia, and plans call for stores to be added in Alabama and South Carolina this year.

Luce said the new concept primarily targets suburban female shoppers with a family income of $50,000 to $125,000, compared with the basic Dollar General core customer with a family income of $40,000 and mostly living in communities of 20,000 or fewer people.

Compare to Five Below

With the $5-and-under price point, it is tempting to compare the new Dollar General brand to the popular Five Below chain of retail stores that also feature $5-and-under inventory.

But Luce says the targeted customer and the merchandise are different — teens and tweens for Five Below and well-to-do suburban female customers for pOpshelf.

A Retail Dive story from earlier this month quoted one industry expert describing pOpshelf as “being like Five Below all grown up.”

The rollout of a new retail concept in these COVID-centric days is unusual, but Luce said that with an underserved market being identified and with the buying power that the 17,400-store Dollar General chain has, introducing the new brand made sense, even during the pandemic. She noted that the pOpShelf concept has been in the works since 2018 and the rollout schedule is on track with the original plan.

The pOpshelf stores are about 9,000 square feet, which is about the same size as traditional Dollar General stores.

Luce said the response to the new brand has exceeded company expectations and that the company could eventually have as many as 3,000 pOpshelf stores.

Dollar General, based in Goodlettsville, has been in business for more than 80 years and has 17,400 stores in 46 states. In traditional Dollar General stores, 80% of the merchandise is priced under $5 and 25% of the merchandise is $1 or less. In the new pOpshelf stores, 95% of the merchandise is $5 or less.

Dollar General also has 25 of its smaller format DGX concept stores, including one on West End near Vanderbilt that opened in 2017.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel 5. Reach her at mscheap@mainstreetmediatn.com and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap.

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