Community frustrated about corporate retail chain entering small Delta County town

This is a recording of the TV6 Early News.
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 5:19 PM EDT
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PERKINS, Mich. (WLUC) - Another U.P. small town is frustrated that a corporate retail chain has entered their community, potentially pushing the small businesses out.

”This is a town of about 160 people,” community member Andrea Nummilien said. “I don’t see how it’s sustainable.”

Nummilien, who is a Perkins native, said a new Dollar General store will only hurt business for the two local stores, Perkins Store and Joe’s One Stop which is about 6 miles away in Rock.

”We can’t really fault them but at the same time the cost down the road could be even greater if we were to lose either of these stores,” Nummilien said.

The dollar store was supposed to be built down M-35 from the current location. In order to do so, the property would need to be rezoned from residential to commercial. So, Joe’s One Stop owners, Joe and Erica Skellenger started a petition.

”Asking what they felt about the Dollar General moving into Perkins and over 500 signatures said we don’t want this store here,” Joe Skellenger said.

After the Delta County Board of Commissioners voted not to rezone the land, Dollar General found property that was already commercial.

The retailer opened on September 25, right next to the Perkins Store. Owner, Pam Treganowan, tries to stay positive.

”I’m praying and hoping that it doesn’t affect us,” Treganowan said. “I know it will in some areas. I can’t control it. I can’t even buy the stuff cheaper than what they’re selling it for.”

Treganowan has owned the Perkins Store for almost 14 years. Between her gas station, deli and new products, she hopes to keep up with the competition.

”We’re trying to do other things that nobody else does and try to keep us alive,” Treganowan said.

Not only are these shops in the community, but they’re engraved in the community from the way they give back.

”We have, since we’ve been here, given back over $100,000 to the community to via our in-house gift certificates,” Joe Skellenger said.

”The store owner at the time,” Nummilien said. “She did so many random acts of kindness for the community and I’m willing to bet any money that the owners today do the same. I don’t necessarily think that you’re going to find that with a chain store like Dollar General.”

However, Dollar General spokeswoman Crystal Luce says the chain’s mission is “serving others”.

”We see every new Dollar General as a positive economic impact of the communities that we serve,” Luce said.

One of the ways Dollar General expands on economic development is through literacy grants.

”We provided more than $200 million to organizations in the communities that we serve to help with youth, summer, family and adult literacy program,” Luce said.

Now, with their livelihoods on the line, these two local store owners say they just want to survive after years of hard work and dedication.

”I don’t have anything else for retirement,” Treganowan said. “So, I got to make it so that I’m able to sell this.”

”This is everything that we’ve worked 12 years for,” Joe Skellenger said. “We have a tremendous amount of investment into this community.”

Skellenger and Treganowan said they know they cannot compete with Dollar General’s prices but still need the support of the community they’ve personally invested in for more than a decade.

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