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The New York Times reports on how in Chester, Vermont, Dollar General has received narrow approval from the town to open a 9,100 square foot store ... which seems a lot simpler than it actually is.

To begin with, the state is Vermont - a state that has been rigorous in its opposition to big box stores run by Walmart (which has just four there) and Target (which has none). According to the story, "more than two dozen Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores have cropped up around the state. All three companies are thriving in the bad economy - between them, they have more than 20,000 outlets nationwide, selling everything from dog treats to stain remover and jeans to pool toys. Their spread through Vermont, with its famously strict land-use laws, has caught chain-store opponents off guard."

According to the Times story, "The spread of dollar stores has come during a period of decline of the general store, a Vermont institution that in many towns served as a meeting place and all-purpose emporium." Dollar General now has 15 stores in the state, and while the company has made concessions in terms of architecture and other operating procedures, there remains considerable concern that continued expansion of the format in the state could lead to a diminished sense that Vermont is someplace special, someplace different.
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