Family Dollar officers are expected to meet this week with a group of Memphis pastors about cleanliness issues that have led to a call to boycott the discount, retail giant.
When and where the meeting is to take place had not been disclosed to the TSD by press time. The meeting was designed to be closed to the public and the media.
Patricia Rogers, the public relations specialist who does work for the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association, confirmed the meeting. Also a community activist, Rogers has been out front in bringing concerns about local Family Dollar operations to the pastors and the public.
“Family Dollar stores are owned by Dollar Tree, a $3.2 billion-dollar corporation. Their major customer-base is solely African-Americans who are basically the working poor, Rogers said.”
Rogers has posted photos of unsanitary conditions, including piles of trash outside some Memphis stores. She spoke about the matter at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association last Tuesday. The pastors were asked to encourage congregants to boycott the stores.
Shelby County Environmental Court has sited Family Dollar stores 11 times, according to county records, with most of those cases resolved. The 6550 Mt. Moriah Road location has been shut down for extreme rat infestation, along with other unsanitary conditions.
The store at 3515 Ridgemont, along with the one on Mt. Moriah, is scheduled for an August appearance in environmental court. Family Dollar hopes to resolve all issues at that time and have the store reopened after inspection.
According to a statement from Randy Guilar, vice-president of investor relations at Dollar Tree, the company “absolutely respects…every community that we do business in.”
Guilar said store managers check trash when stores open, at mid-day and at closing. “Every request and complaint has been passed along to the appropriate field leader.”
“We are not asking anything special,” said Pastor Jerry Ivery of World Redeemers Outreach Ministries. “All we want is for Family Dollar to follow the laws and codes already in place. We want them to respect our community.
“These stores are owned by the same conglomerate that owns Dollar Tree Stores. We are refusing to patronize those who have no respect for our community. I have never seen any store of any name kept in the condition these stores are kept. They are sadly mistaken if they think we don’t care. Whatever it takes, we will be respected.”
Apostle John L. Ragland III, pastor of Christian Fellowship in Memphis, said the ministers are eclectic and don’t agree on everything but are in agreement about “the power of the black spending dollar.”
Pastor Ivery said, “We don’t want to see these stores shut down. That would negatively impact our communities. Just respect our community. Although many of our people are low-income and working poor, give us the same regard you would give to a Germantown or Collierville community. That’s all we are saying.”
Rogers asserts that the issues at local Family Dollar stores are “systemic” and characteristic of stores in other parts of the country.
“When I started posting photos and comments on my Facebook page, I received messages from Detroit, Dallas and Louisville of communities in those cities having the very same problems with Family Dollar stores.”