Fort Mill Times

Relocated Family Dollar up and running in Fort Mill

Fort Mill’s relocated Family Dollar is officially open for business, following a ribbon-cutting Thursday morning that further paves the way for redevelopment of the former Food Lion shopping center at Doby’s Bridge Road and Tom Hall Street.

The ribbon-cutting featured an appearance by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which drew dozens of children eager to meet their big-screen heroes.

Family Dollar built a new store at the intersection just up the street from its longtime spot next to what in recent years has been an empty grocery storefront.

Town Councilman Tom Adams said Thursday he’s excited to see Family Dollar stay close and to have the “nicest Family Dollar in the state of South Carolina.”

“We’re really excited about the additional tax base,” he said. “As we continue to grow, we need to have more of that kind of commitment from business.”

The new store is at 217 Doby’s Bridge Road and features an updated layout from the previous site.

“Family Dollar is thrilled to open this store in Fort Mill,” said Howard Levine, company chairman and CEO. “We look forward to providing the community with everyday low prices and convenience at this fantastic new store.”

The opening comes at a time when Matthews, N.C.-based Family Dollar is closing 30 stores throughout the Carolinas. In April, Family Dollar said it would close 370 under-performing stores nationwide as sales and profits fell. The discount retailer also said it would lower prices on 1,000 items in an attempt to lure shoppers back.

Family Dollar, whose president departed unexpectedly in January, has struggled to keep up with rivals, especially larger Dollar General.

Family Dollar’s challenges have mounted recently. Prominent activist investor Carl Icahn bought a 9.4 percent stake in the company. He demanded that the company be sold immediately and said he will move to fire and replace the entire board if he doesn’t get his way.

Analysts have speculated that Family Dollar could be purchased by a private equity firm or a rival such as Dollar General. But a Dollar General takeover has been seen as increasingly unlikely, especially in the wake of Dollar General CEO Rick Dreiling’s recent announcement that he plans to retire next year.

Nineteen North Carolina and 11 South Carolina stores represents about 5 percent of Family Dollar’s stores in the two states. The company operates 411 stores in North Carolina and 222 in South Carolina, according to its most recent annual report.

Nationwide, Family Dollar operated 8,100 stores before it began its most recent round of closures. The company has grown rapidly in the past several years, expanding from 6,655 stores at the end of fiscal 2009.

The store’s former site is part of a redevelopment that will bring a Walmart Neighborhood Market to the Doby’s Bridge Road corridor. Between the former Family Dollar site and the Walmart, another building will be torn down to make way for a new multitenant unit, likely to feature a relocated Los Aztecas Tex-Mex restaurant.

Charlotte Observer reporter Ely Portillo contributed.