January 31

Amid tough financial times, China gets dollar store

Store is set to open up on Route 3 next week.

By Jesse Scardina jscardina@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

CHINA — Thad Barber, the owner of the new Dollar Deals variety store set to open next Feb. 8, has an answer to the timeless question: What can you buy for a dollar?

click image to enlarge

DOLLAR MAN: Thad Barber, owner of the new Dollar Deals variety store on Route 3 in South China, holds his 3-year-old son Tyler at Barber’s new store. The variety store is set to open on Feb. 8.

Staff Photo by Jesse Scardina

At his new store, anything.

Barber, who owned a market and deli at the same location on Route 3 before closing it two years ago, was looking for a business that could thrive on the high-traveled road while also filling a need in the community. A dollar store filled the void.

“It makes sense for this economy,” Barber said. “We’re just past the recession and the oil and heating costs are so high. Families in town will be able to recoup some of their costs by coming to this store.

“I hadn’t been in a lot of dollar stores,” he continued. “I couldn’t believe what you could buy for a dollar.”

The store, about a half-mile from Lakeview Drive, is a traditional dollar store with more than 70,000 pieces of inventory, according to Jay Pucci, marketing specialist for the store. The store had only a small portion of its inventory stocked by Friday afternoon, but one wall was already lined with party favors and gift bags, while the back wall was a plethora of children toys, ranging from toy money to army figurines to sports gear. The aisles that were stocked were lined arts and crafts equipment, pet toys, office supplies and greeting cards.

Barber, who also owns the Fieldstone Quickstop down the road, said the way to stock a dollar store with a variety of high quality products, while keeping prices at no more than a dollar, required a web of wholesalers.

“That’s the key to it, finding good wholesalers with good quality products, good costs and good shipping prices,” Barber said.

The thought behind the new store dates back to the closing of the deli, and what Barber and his family and friends thought would be a good fit. Between a history of being in the retail business and the lack of modestly priced odds and ends in China, Barber thought a dollar store could work.

Family Dollar, a low-price variety store, is located about a half-mile down the road.

The store will feature seasonal items as well, including long-stem roses for Valentine’s Day. While the store will open in early February, it’s organizing a grand opening near St. Patrick’s Day.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239 jscardina@centralmaine.com Twitter: @jessescardina
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