Palm Coast’s War on Dollar Stores and Those Who Shop There

From the first mention at the January 7 City Council Meeting to a Special Meeting only 7 days later, Palm Coast rushes to put a moratorium on new dollar format stores in Palm Coast. Is there a crisis?

PALM COAST, FL – January 19, 2020 – At a Special Meeting January 14, Palm Coast City Council rushed to pass an ordinance placing a 120-day moratorium on the approval of any new dollar format stores. The issue was first raised only seven days earlier by Mayor Milissa Holland during her January 7th regular meeting comments on items not on the agenda. “We have a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city and frankly, I find it a little disconcerting,” said Holland.

Dollar GeneralThe great concern is reportedly driven by a deep-seated belief that dollar format stores can damage a community. “We’re not looking to stand in the way of business or progress,” Mayor Holland says, “but we need to ensure that everything built in Palm Coast is for the public good. There’s compelling evidence from other communities around the country that dollar stores have various long-term effects, and we should be sure we’re protecting our community.” Holland and the city attorney argue that dollar stores, which do not sell fresh produce, squeeze out local mom and pop stores that do, creating a virtual food desert.

Why the big hurry? Do we really have, as Mayor Holland says, “a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city…?” Not really. During all of 2019, there was only one building permit for a dollar store within Palm Coast, none in 2018, none in 2017 and only one in 2016. There are no new building permit applications for dollar stores in the pipeline.

The Dollar General at 1000 Matanzas Woods Pkwy permit was issued on August 28, 2019. The contractor stated value for construction was $762,447. The city received $77,779.70 in impact and permitting fees, exclusive of water and sewer connection charges.

The permit for the Dollar General at 20 Old Kings Road N was issued on May 4, 2016. The contractor stated value for construction was $779,887. The city received $79,829.60 in impact and permitting fees, exclusive of water and sewer connection charges. The property owner paid $15,043.60 for property taxes for the 2019 tax year.

Dollar Stores in Palm Coast

  • Dollar Tree at 5200 E SR 100 (Palm Coast Landings)
  • Dollar General, 11 Market Ave. (behind Belle Terre Publix)
  • Dollar Tree at 140 Cypress Edge Dr
  • Dollar General at 20 Old Kings Road N
  • Dollar General at 500 Palm Coast Pkwy SW
  • Dollar General at 1000 Matanzas Woods Pkwy (opening soon)

A food desert is defined as “an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.” Palm Coast is hardly an urban area. It’s a sprawling suburb. Belying the food desert argument, there are several major chain grocery stores within the city.

  • Publix – 3 stores
  • Winn Dixie – 2 stores
  • Walmart SuperCenter – 1 store
  • Super Target – 1 store
  • Aldi – 1 store with another in planning/permitting

Local Palm Coast grocery and produce options

  • Fresh Produce Farmers Market
  • Samsue Produce
  • Russian Food
  • Palm Coast Farms Market
  • Far East Asian Market
  • East Coast Market
  • Latino Market
  • Serpol of Florida
  • Amigos Supermarket
  • Richard’s Foodporium
  • Millennium Grocery
  • European Village Farmers Market

With only two dollar store permits issued in the city since mid-2016 and with no dollar store permits in the pipeline, it seems odd that there is such a rush to judgment, requiring a Special Meeting of the city council. Misusing terms like “food desert,” and making appeals to “the public good” are simply stalking horses. It turns out that the “compelling evidence from other communities around the country that dollar stores have various long-term effects” comes from only two municipalities (neither in Florida) that have passed ordinances to control further dollar store development.

I’m libertarian-minded. I don’t like our government deciding for me where I should or should not shop. When I shop at one of our local dollar stores, I find them invariably crowded. The free market is speaking loudly, apparently with little or no effect on competing food outlets.

Could it be that the dollar store war was not declared to save mom and pop fresh market grocers? Is that argument simply a stalking horse? The real objection is more likely the same kind of NIMBYism that protests apartment developments because apartments attract “those kinds of people.”

The Housing Element Section of Palm Coast’s Comprehensive Plan Says, “Citizens of all income levels shall have the opportunity to obtain quality housing at a reasonable cost.” It stands to reason that they should also have corresponding shopping opportunities.

12 replies
  1. Jake Sullivan
    Jake Sullivan says:

    Dollar Stores

    Well said Toby. In the news recently was a story how Dollar Stores cater to low income/poor people and the food they sell is not good for them. More Government overreach to tell us how we should run our lives. Next they’ll go after the Pizza shops that are popping up. Milissa, “Mind Your Own Business”.

  2. Bill Nix
    Bill Nix says:

    Our Dollars

    Our Mayor,County Commisioners,and elected city employees are more dangerous than Retail Stores. They are have spent millions of DOLLARS that we did not want. Yet now they want a moritotium on a retail chain that pays taxes, employees people and provides a service. lets get rid of the real Million Dollar Spendors.

  3. David White
    David White says:

    Dollar Stores Provide Value

    I shop at the Dollar General Stores in town and I find that they sell quality products at a good price. They are not big so you can get what you need and go in a hurry. They offer a great selection of merchandise and they offer certain products of a quality and a price you can’t get anywhere else in town. Additionally the staff at these stores work hard and provide exceptional service. Obviously the Mayor does not shop at these stores. She knows nothing about them. Prior to now, I had no opinion on the Mayor but now I feel she must go. She is attacking the community that she was elected to represent.

  4. Donna Pettinati
    Donna Pettinati says:

    Not Just Dollar Stores(Responsible Development)

    Hi Toby-see link from CNN article business Dollar General 2019(could not send link to you)

    I live in Broward county and more than 20 Dollar Generals popped up over night in lower income areas-free standing buildings- Not even talking Dollar Tree or Family Dollar, BUT Dollar General specifically. 4 years ago articles of crime surges were pointing to these stores-here is one

    By Staff | May 24, 2016 at 2:59 PM CDT – Updated September 2 at 10:34 AM
    MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – After months of sorting through public records, WMC Action News 5 Investigators discovered an extensive crime problem at area Family Dollar and Dollar General stores.

    From January 1, 2015 to April 25, 2016, Memphis Police Department responded to 6,627 emergency calls at dollar stores. That means over a 16 month period, MPD went to dollar stores more than a dozen times a day.
    Walgreens 24 hr stores provide prescriptions, Dollar Generals provide late night access to predators, coupled with many cash transactions and understaffed at night by very young adults or seniors.
    You are good at investigating, take a look into why these stores want to be on every corner. Florida is in the top 5 states of new store openings, once a foothold to an area, they spread like invasive vines. (Aldi seems to be following similar trajectory, yet after Aldi opens stores soon are unkempt and a bit dirty) Why would Costco , Samsclub, Trader Joes, or even Chicos open in an area dense with Family Dollar stores.
    Thank you for keeping me up to date on my future place of retirement, I have loved Palm Coast since 1978 and without you I would be out of touch! Broward county is all but destroyed, I do think seniors and families ARE considered carefully in Flagler and revenue aids services, but sleepy Broward is now built out, no more land AND no money to replace failed and neglected infrastructure. All that from over zealous politics to build, sprawl and collect new money. FYI-now a bill here wants all new free standing buildings to go up and provide housing/office,etc. This all happened within 35 years. Thanks again!

  5. William Schreiber
    William Schreiber says:


    A very good fact based analysis Toby. I fully concur with your results and conclusions. It does appear that our city mayor and council are once again acting without facts or due thought process.

  6. leslie persons
    leslie persons says:

    Really? Dollar Stores a Problem???

    Free Enterprise should dictate what stores open in an area. All businesses bring revenue to an area in jobs, and taxes. They add a bit of convenience to those of us who enjoy the convenience of shopping close to home and not driving miles to reach a store. If these stores weren’t needed by the community people would not shop at them and soon they would be out of business and their growth would stop. The fact that they want to invest in our community shows a need for them. Perhaps the younger generation doesn’t mind driving miles to get an item they need, but as we age we like to stay closer to home and like the convenience of these type of stores.

  7. Vicki McDonald
    Vicki McDonald says:


    I agree with the moratorium on Dollar Stores in our city. Why must we have so many McDonalds, Wendy’s, Taco Bell’s, and dollar stores?.. Many, Many of our citizens would love a Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, Costco, or a Whole Foods. For instance, AARP reported several years ago that a family with just two people could save approximately $300.00 a year shopping at a big box store such as Sam’s or Costco as they sell many other goods and services besides food….. on housing: while we need apartments and lower income housing, why put it next to the movie theatre?… people will drop their kids off at the movies and worry about crime in that area.

  8. D W Ferguson
    D W Ferguson says:

    Don’t Forget Target (Grocer)

    enjoyed article- Dollar store is not one of my” Go To” stores but they offer a Choice and an array of goods for those looking for bargains-There appear to be many customers seeking their offerings

  9. James McFadden
    James McFadden says:

    dollar stores

    My wife and I shop at dollar stores but our main shopping is at Publix, Winn Dixie and Walmart stores. What’s the problem and why the moritorium? Are we attracting non desirable shoppers? Are these stores cutting into the profitability of the bigger stores?
    I think our mayor and council have better things to do.


    Mayor McCheese

    The Mayor shouldnt be using her job to decide what
    She likes and dislikes and whats good for me or MY TOWN.
    Sounds to me like she needs to be impeached.

  11. Pamela Snyder
    Pamela Snyder says:


    Kroger is a major grocery line. Why is there done in Palm Coast or nearby?
    We lived in Georgia for 32 years. We had Kroger, Publix, Targaryen, 2 Walmart’s, and Winn Dixie. Kroger offered a larger variety of shopping goods and undercut all the rest n price by a far margin. We had 3 KROGERS within 3 miles of our home. They always remained busy, and customer service was out of this world. Publix and Winn Dixie couldn’t handle the competition. Please KROGER do something soon for our area
    Fast food restaurants and what few major restaurants are are and few between. Palm Coast is growing like wildflowers, Kroger outdoor be #1 on top of our requested list and Longhorns would be second.

  12. Bob Mack
    Bob Mack says:

    “Miss Manage” ?

    There has to be an ulterior motive for the mayor’s disdain for ‘Dollar-type’ stores. I’m trying to make sense out of her “urban desert” argument but it is beyond logic and therefore NON-sense. Think about it… can a Mom & Pop store that sells fresh produce be hurt, financially, by a store that does NOT sell fresh produce ? Using her ‘logic’, it could also be said that Auto Parts stores hurt grocery stores that sell LETTUCE !
    I’m seeing more “Memory Care” behemoths springing up than dollar format stores lately.
    To use an old adage…. “There’s Something Rotten In Denmark”. (Maybe it’s the stench of homelessness, a REAL issue, to which Mayor Holland and her colleagues should direct their attention).

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