Dollar General 75th Anniversary
IN OUR STORIED HISTORY
We’ve grown from a single store to one of the country’s fastest growing small-box discount retailers. A passionate commitment to serving our customers, employees and communities is the foundation of our growth.
our rich heritage
"AT DOLLAR GENERAL, OUR VALUES AND OUR MISSION ARE AT THE
CORE OF OUR SUCCESS. WE HAVE A UNIQUE CULTURE OF SERVING
OTHERS, A RICH HISTORY AND A VERY BRIGHT FUTURE.”
- TODD VASOS
CEO, DOLLAR GENERAL
In 1939, a pair of stockings cost 25¢ and a girl’s dress shoes or a man’s dress shirt cost 50¢.
J.L. Turner and Cal Turner Sr. open J.L. Turner and Son Wholesale in Scottsville, KY.
Each invested $5,000 and became partners in a wholesale dry-goods business to serve retailers who had survived the depression. $10,000 was a lot of money in 1939, but it proved to be a sound investment because providing value to folks was a timeless idea.
Learn more about Cal Turner Sr.
CAL TURNER, SR
Cal Turner, the founder of Dollar General, was a pioneer in discount retail and is credited with creating the dollar store concept. In 1939, he and his father opened J.L. Turner and Sons, which became Dollar General. Cal had a gift for retail. If the price was right, Cal bought it, and figured out a way to pass the savings along to our customers. He had big vision for his business but he always remained true to his small town roots. His greatest loves were family, community and giving back to our hometowns. It’s a spirit of service we still embrace every day. Cal served as president of Dollar General until 1977, when he became chairman and handed the reins over to his son, Cal Turner, Jr. At the time of his death in 2000, Dollar General had grown to nearly 5,000 stores.
The Turners began serving consumers directly through junior department stores.
J.L. Turner knew that farmers picked up their checks for tobacco crops in a cold barn. He had Cal Sr. meet them there with a gift – a left-hand half of a pair of warm jersey gloves. If the farmers came to the Turner’s store, they’d get the right-hand glove and an offer to cash their checks. Just one of the many inventive ways the Turners attracted customers.
Macy's of Scottsville
Cal Sr. was once greeted outside his store by Ovaletta Gibbs, who declared, "Cal, I've been shopping at your store - the Macy's of Scottsville." When Cal Sr. asked why she compared the town's Dollar General with Macy's, Mrs. Gibbs explained, "I've always heard you can get whatever you need at Macy's."
The First Dollar General Opens.
Turner's Department store in Springfield, KY, is converted into the first Dollar General with no item over $1. Soon, Dollar General Stores started sprouting up in southern Kentucky, like this store in Campbellsville, KY.
Paint the town pink.
When every man in Springfield seemed to be wearing bright pink corduroy pants that just cost $1, the colorful mystery was soon unraveled. A Nashville manufacturing company was unable to sell a large quantity of the fabric. So Cal Turner Sr. scored a deal by having the corduroy turned into men’s pants, allowing those who appreciated value to save a few – dare we say – pretty pennies.
"It's not a family business anymore, but our business is a family."
- CAL TURNER JR.
Dollar General Becomes a Public Company.
In 1968, 100 shares of Dollar General stock cost $1,650. In 2007, when KKR took Dollar General private, that original investment would have been worth $655,534.
It Shouldn't Cost a Lot to be Thoughtful.
That is what Cal Sr. believed. So, for a long time, he searched for good quality greeting cards he could sell 2 for $1. But none of the big card companies would agree to the deal. Finally, Cal found a willing partner. Now, 2 for $1 greeting cards are one of our top-selling items, purchased by thousands of thoughtful customers every day.
A new warehouse and office complex debuts in Scottsville, KY. Several years later, a state-of-the-art automated sorting and conveyer system (pictured here) was added.
Dollar General exceeds annual sales of $100 million for the first time.
Perhaps the friendly customer service demonstrated by Cal Turner Sr. was the reason customers kept coming back.
Cal Turner Jr. becomes President and CEO.
The torch gets passed from father to son, igniting a period of unprecedented growth.
Learn more about Cal Jr.
CAL TURNER JR.
Cal Turner Jr. was literally born into the business, coming to the world just three months after his father and grandfather founded J.L. Turner and Sons. Although known for his humility, Cal Jr., was an immensely successful CEO and remains a beloved and respected civic leader. He entered the business in 1965 and succeeded his father as president in 1977 and as chairman in 1988. Cal Jr. grew Dollar General from a regional family business into a publicly traded national leader in the discount sector with more than 6,000 stores in 27 states and annual sales in excess of $6 billion. Cal Jr. was the guiding force behind the company’s mission of Serving Others and carries on that tradition of service today as chairman of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. A Navy veteran and a graduate of Vanderbilt University, he continues to mentor and guide corporate leaders through the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in Professions at Vanderbilt University.
Dolly Parton visits Scottsville on the company’s 40th anniversary.
In 1979, Dolly’s single “You’re the Only One” hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles – her fifth chart-topper since 1977. For nearly a decade, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has provided support to the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provide free books to children across Tennessee.
The company acquires 206 stores and a warehouse from Eagle Family Discount Stores.
June Smith, a former Eagle Family Discount store employee, wrote a poem entitled "How To Teach A Flying Eagle To March Like A General" for the company newsletter. The final stanza of her poem reads, "I really think we're going to make it. The new merchandise is on our floors. Proclaiming to folks here in Florida, 'We're now a Dollar General Store!'"
"Furthering one's education can improve lives for generations to come."
- CAL TURNER JR.
Dollar General launches GED/Learn to Read program.
Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner, was functionally illiterate with a third grade education. In his honor, Dollar General created a free referral program to help individuals learn to read or prepare for their high school equivalency test. Referral brochures are located at the cash registers in all stores.
President Ronald Reagan honors Dollar General for its literacy programs.
The White House gives the Presidential Award for Private Sector Initiatives to Dollar General in recognition of changing the lives of those affected by illiteracy.
1980s Dollar General
A look back on Dollar General in the 80s.
Dollar General celebrates its 50th Anniversary with 1,300 stores in 23 states and more than 7,000 employees.
In 1989, the majority of products in Dollar General stores are priced at $10 or less.
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is established.
Founded on the belief that literacy opens doors for personal, professional and economic growth, Dollar General created an official grant foundation. Since 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded nonprofit organizations and schools more than $85 million in grants, helping more than 4.8 million people learn to read, get their GED or learn the English language. Click here to learn more.
Cal Turner Sr. celebrates his 80th birthday at the Ryman, the long-time home of the Grand Ole Opry.
“A Simple Life,” a special musical celebrating his life, is broadcast from Nashville’s historic auditorium. Dollar General opens a new distribution center in South Boston, Virginia.
Dollar General opens a new distribution center in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Ardmore, Oklahoma welcomes Dollar General’s new Distribution Center.
DollarGeneral.com is launched. Dollar General opens a new distribution center in Indianola, Mississippi.
The value of “keeping things simple in serving our customers” was evident on Dollar General’s first home on the Internet.
The Fortune 500 recognizes Dollar General for the first time. Dollar General opens a new distribution center in Fulton, MO.
Large distribution centers allow Dollar General to supply different geographic regions and expand into new ones. Also in 1999, The Fortune 500 (an annual list of the five hundred most profitable U.S. corporations) recognizes Dollar General for the first time.
“AS FAR AS I KNOW, WE’RE THE FIRST COMPANY TO GET FREE ADVERTISING FROM OUR TRUCKS. I LIKE TO CALL THEM MOVABLE BILLBOARDS.”
- CAL TURNER SR.
Dollar General opens its new corporate office in Goodlettsville, TN. A new distribution center opens in Alachua, FL and sales exceed $4 billion.
Corporate headquarters opens in Goodlettsville, TN with a team of more than 500 employees. Drag the slider to see the headquarters go from concept to completion.
Dollar General opens its 5,000th store in Waterford, MI, along with a new Distribution Center in Zanesville, OH.
Dollar General’s mission of serving others takes on special meaning during the holidays.
In 2001, we started Santa’s Workshop at our corporate office and distribution centers. We also partner with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program to help make holiday dreams come true for thousands of families.
The first Dollar General Market opens.
As a convenient alternative to discount superstores, Dollar General Market, at 16,000 square feet, provides everything a traditional Dollar General store sells, as well as fresh dairy, meat and produce.
David Perdue appointed as Chairman and CEO.
David Perdue served as CEO of Dollar General from 2003 to 2007.
Learn more about David Perdue.
David Perdue served as CEO of Dollar General from 2003 to 2007. During his tenure as CEO, the company grew from 6,000 stores to more than 8,500, and he was instrumental in the implementation of the innovative EZ Store system to improve the delivery of merchandise to our stores. David was very involved in the company’s commitment to literacy and served as chairman of the National Committee on Literacy and Workforce Development. David earned both a bachelor's and master's degree from Georgia Tech University. Before joining Dollar General, he held senior management positions at Sara Lee, Haggar and Reebok.
Perishable Food Items
Dollar General expands coolers from a 400 store test in Texas and Tennessee to all stores across the chain, providing dairy products and other perishable food items for the first time. The expansion opened the doors to the acceptance of food stamp (EBT/SNAP) benefits, and Dollar General became one of the first small-box value discounters to roll out readers for electronic benefits cards.
Dollar General opens its 7,000th store in Clovis, NM. Govenor Bill Richardson cuts the ribbon.
Governor Bill Richardson cuts the ribbon as Dollar General opens its 7,000th store in Clovis, New Mexico. Dollar General presented Clovis Community College with a grant for their adult literacy program at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
We are part of the fabric of small town America. When a Dollar General opens, it sometimes brings out the whole town. In 2004, President Carter helped welcome us to his hometown of Plains, GA.
Dollar General opens an office in Hong Kong.
Our global sourcing helps to provide the low, everyday prices our customers count on.
Did you know?
The majority of Dollar General's products are priced below $10, with approximately 25 percent of the products priced at $1 or less.
Life In The Fast Lane
Dollar General makes NASCAR® Busch Series debut at Daytona, sponsoring the #34 Chevrolet driven by Randy LaJoie in the Hershey’s 300.
Dollar General starts accepting Visa credit and check cards.
Dollar General reinforced its leadership among small-box discounters by adding Visa's credit and check cards as payment options, making the shopping experience more convenient and easy for customers.
Dollar General partners with St. Jude.
Dollar General partners with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by participating in the Thanks and Giving campaign to raise millions of dollars to fight childhood cancer.
Rick Dreiling named CEO.
Under Rick's leadership, Dollar General has experienced impressive growth and redefined the dollar sector. Learn more about Rick Dreiling.
Rick Dreiling was named CEO of Dollar General in 2008. Under Rick’s leadership Dollar General achieved unprecedented growth and re-defined the dollar store category. Rick led one of the most dramatic turn-around efforts in retail history, culminating in the company's re-emergence as a public company through a successful Initial Public Offering on the NYSE November 13, 2009. Under his leadership, Dollar General grew from 8,500 stores to nearly 12,000 and annual revenues grew from $10.5 billion to more than $18.9 billion in 2014.
Prior to leading Dollar General, Rick was chairman and CEO of Duane Reade Holdings, Inc. and before that he held a number of senior along executive leadership positions at Long’s Drug Stores Corporation and Safeway, Inc. Rick has been an active leader in the community, serving on the board of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. A graduate of Rockhurst University, Inc. he has served as Chairman of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and in 2011 Rick was named “Retailer of the Year” by Mass Market Retailer and “CEO of the Year” by Retail Leader in 2012. He retired as CEO of Dollar General in May 2015 but continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Dollar General becomes a public company (again).
After the company went private for two years, the NYSE welcomed back DG with the ringing of the closing bell.
Dollar General named to G.I. Jobs Top 100 Military-Friendly Employers List.
Dollar General has been a leader in programs like "Paychecks to Patriots," which matches veterans with career opportunities.
Dollar General becomes the exclusive retailer of Rexall brand products.
The introduction of Rexall at Dollar General is a union of two brands that represent time-tested quality and commitment to caring for its customers and their families. For more than 100 years, generations of Americans have relied of the Rexall brand for their health care needs. The trusted brand is available exclusively at Dollar General.
Dollar General reveals the new face of Bobbie Brooks.
Ten employees were chosen to model the new line in advertising and other promotions.
"Opening the doors of our 10,000th store in California reiterates our commitment to bringing unmatched convenience and value to customers across the nation."
- RICK DREILING
Dollar General opens its 10,000th store in Merced, CA, and opens distribution centers in Bessemer, AL, and Lebec, CA.
“Opening the doors of our 10,000th store is a meaningful day for us all at Dollar General, and we are excited to celebrate the occasion in California. This milestone reiterates our commitment to bringing unmatched convenience and value to customers across the nation.” Rick Dreiling
Dollar General is recognized as part of the S&P 500.
Did you know?
Each typical Dollar General store sells approximately 10,000 items of name and private label merchandise, including health and beauty, home cleaning supplies, housewares, seasonal items and basic clothing. Household brands include Tide, Bounty, Kleenex, Hanes, Cheerios and Lays, to name a few. We also sell an assortment of packaged foods as well as some refrigerated and frozen foods.
Did you know?
Approximately 70% of our stores serve communities with populations of less than 20,000.
Did you know?
Dollar General is one of the leading retailers in the sale of Mountain Dew.
Dollar General reaches another important milestone with the opening of its 11,000th store in Murfreesboro, TN.
Dollar General celebrates its 75th Anniversary.
Todd Vasos named CEO.
Todd Vasos was named CEO of Dollar General in May 2015.Learn more about Todd Vasos.
Todd Vasos was named CEO of Dollar General in May 2015. He joined Dollar General in December 2008 as Executive Vice President, Division President and Chief Merchandising Officer. In November of 2013, he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In these key leadership roles, Todd has been instrumental in driving Dollar General’s growth and profitability and in leading successful initiatives that have resulted in improvements in merchandising, marketing, store standards, people development and enhanced operational excellence throughout the organization.
Prior to joining Dollar General, Todd served in executive positions with Longs Drug Stores Corporation for seven years, including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (February 2008 through November 2008) and Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer (2001 – 2008), where he was responsible for all pharmacy and front-end marketing, merchandising, procurement, supply chain, advertising, store development, store layout and space allocation, and the operation of three distribution centers. He also previously served in leadership positions at Phar-Mor Food and Drug Inc. and Eckerd Corporation.
Dollar General Opens It’s 12,000th Store in Juliette, GA.
On May 30, 2015, Dollar General opened its 12,000th store in the small, historic town of Juliette, Georgia and hosted a community celebration to mark the company milestone. As part of the community celebration, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation presented a donation of $12,000 to Monroe County schools in support of literacy initiatives and the company’s mission of Serving Others.