The pending closure of Family Dollar’s headquarters in Matthews, a company started by the Levine Family and now owned by Dollar Tree, could have effects that ripple throughout the Charlotte community for years to come.
About 900 jobs will be impacted — 700 will be moved to Dollar Tree’s Chesapeake, Va. headquarters and 200 will be cut over the next year. Dollar Tree says the consolidation of its headquarters is expected to be completed by fall 2019.
Family Dollar is Matthews’ second largest private employer. But Matthews’ longtime former mayor thinks the closing of the headquarters may open up opportunities for a large, mixed-use development that could improve the town and expand its tax base.
Meanwhile, shoppers should expect potential benefits from the consolidation down the road, retail experts say.
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Here’s what the closure may mean for:
Family Dollar employees
The 700 Charlotte- area employees whose jobs are relocating to Chesapeake, Va., will have to decide if they want to uproot their lives and move over 300 miles away to another state.
About 200 more Family Dollar employees will lose their jobs. But the timing of the change could make it easier for them to find new work because unemployment levels remain very low.
In July, the Charlotte region’s rate was 3.8 percent, down from 3.9 percent in June.
Charlotte employers say the low unemployment is resulting in a shortage of workers, particularly those in skilled areas such as information technology and manufacturing.
As a result, many employers are desperate to fill positions.
But Allan Freyer, director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the N.C. Justice Center, a left-leaning nonprofit in Raleigh, said that even if Family Dollar employees land new jobs they might lose benefits and other perks in addition to losing seniority.
“That means that they’ll be facing employment with companies with a lot fewer benefits in their time of need,” Freyer said.
Only Novant Health employs more people in the private sector in Matthews than Family Dollar.“
Family Dollar has been an important part of Matthews for many years,” Matthews Mayor Paul Bailey said in an emailed statement. “Their employees are part of our community, and we have reached out to our Mecklenburg County partners to determine how they can best assist them during this transition.
“Though this is a loss for Matthews, we are confident that the vibrancy of our community will see us through this transition.”
Jim Taylor, Matthews’ longtime former mayor, thinks the closing of the headquarters could create an opportunity for the town. He’d like to see a large, mixed-use development built on the 107-acre tract occupied by Family Dollar’s headquarters and distribution center.
That, he said, could become “one of the gateways into Matthews.”
“I think there’s a much better opportunity … to really redevelop and make that a section of Monroe Road that a lot of people could be very proud of,” said Taylor, who served for eight years as mayor before choosing not to run for reelection last year. “I look at it as a positive, long-term opportunity for the town.”
Taylor said it would not surprise him to see Dollar Tree close the Matthews distribution center as well, bringing those operations to one of its other distribution centers.
The 43-acre headquarters property has a tax value of about $7.2 million, according to county real estate records. Family Dollar pays about $84,000 a year in taxes on the property; about two thirds of that goes to the county and the rest goes to the town of Matthews, county records show.
Taylor does not expect that today’s development will hurt the town’s tax base.
“I would suspect that if that property was sold, whatever goes there will be of higher value than what is there today,” he said.
Retail experts say that shoppers are unlikely to see immediate changes, but could benefit later on because of the consolidation.
“In the short run, at the customer level, you’re not going to see very much change,” said Roger Beahm, an executive director of the Wake Forest School of Business Center for Retail Innovation.
Over time, shoppers could see some similarities between Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores. But the chief difference between the two will still remain: All Dollar Tree products are $1 or less, Family Dollar sells a variety of items for under $10, from groceries to cleaning products and electronics.
“The (merged) company will still attempt to create differences at the consumer level between the brands and particularly the prices that they see in Dollar Tree relative to Family Dollar,” Beahm said.
Another retail expert says the consolidation is good news for shoppers.
The consolidation of the headquarters will enable the company to get products in bigger bulk, saving money, said Marianne Bickle, a retail expert at The University of South Carolina.
The company is likely to pass on that cost savings to consumers by expanding its product line. “It will be exciting to see, if and what, new product lines they add,” she said.
Staff writer Katherine Peralta contributed.