Own a Dollar Discount Store
"Turning Discount Into Profit"
Entrepreneur Magazine - September 2000
Paul Cohen's Dollar Discount Stores of America doesn't sell cheaply made goods. We pride ourselves on our merchandise," he says.
YOU'VE probably experienced the thrill of shopping at dollar stores, but did you know you could own one? Dollar stores are more than just bargain shopper's utopias; they're also entrepreneurial opportunities, thanks to franchises like Dollar Discount Stores of America Inc. , the fastest-growing franchised chain of dollar stores in the nation, with 122 stores in 28 states.
Dollar Discount Stores of America was founded in 1982 and began franchising in 1987. Most stores are located in high-traffic strip malls, small plazas and other locations near high-volume stores. With middle-class America as its target market, chair and CEO Paul Cohen says that they're the equivalent of the five-and-dimes of years past. Typically, stores do best in areas where the old-fashioned quest for a good bargain is still strong. "Our biggest success has been in rural America," Cohen points out.
Dollar Discount Stores sell everything from household items, snack foods, and toys, to seasonal decorations and greeting cards. If selling these kinds of goods at discount prices sounds appealing to you, start-up costs for new franchises usually run between $99,000 to $195,000, with most stores averaging anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 square feet.
According to Cohen, Dollar Discount Stores aren't all about low prices, but about selection as well. "We don't want our stores to be known as 'junk stores,' because we're not," he says. "We pride ourselves on our merchandise. "
As far as Dollar Discount's goal of opening 40 to 50 more stores this year, Cohen says, "We're right on target. "
"Dollar Day$ of Franchi$ing"
Dollar Days Magazine
A dollar can go a long way if you know the best place to spend it. That means as a consumer, a merchant or as an investor. Today more and more people are venturing to the thought of investing their time and money into themselves. Faced with the uncertainty of job security and carrying an unfulfilled entrepreneurial spirit, ordinary people who have spent years climbing that ladder of success, are choosing to make their own ladder. One of the most rewarding gateways to career freedom is the franchising experience.
A consistent provider of positive franchise experience is Dollar Discount Stores and its home office is right here in the Delaware Valley. Discount stores have a specialty of marketing small ticket household items, snacks, and giftware, etc. for less than a dollar. People in search of stable income, a business of their own or an opportunity to be more enterprising, can find a home franchising with Dollar Discount Stores.
What makes this franchise opportunity consistently successful? Its founder and proven businessman, Paul Cohen. He built a successful retail chain one dollar at a time. Mr. Cohen learned the fundamentals of good business strategies by working at small town auctions with his father. His boyhood experience was a lesson in culture and commerce; Americans are attracted to a good buy. Cohen realized that if you supply good merchandise at auction-like prices, the buyers would demand more. This simple supply and demand philosophy seasoned with good hometown customer service is the recipe for successful retailing and has become a nationwide trend.
Mr. Cohen learned the fundamentals of good business strategies by working at small town auctions with his father.
In 1982, Cohen formed Dollar Discount Corporation. He gradually began to branch out of the farmer's market niche. By 1987, he decided to step beyond the company owned stores and pack- age his approach and expertise into a marketable product to help others realize the sweet taste of success. By 1989 all of his stores were franchised. His national franchise is now exactly as it is advertised, a "time-tested retailing formula" with nearly two decades of operating practice.
The American public has proven this formula and Cohen's boyhood philosophy. People can't refuse a bargain and because of that, discounters have become one of the fastest growing sectors in retailing. Consumers have been conditioned to understand the value of bargain buying. They join wholesale clubs, cut coupons and shop with a comparative eye and know never to pay top dollar for merchandise. It is these conditioned responses of the buying public that guarantee the success of a store that offers variety store merchandise for no more than one dollar.
What is Paul Cohen's secret to success?
One fact about Dollar Discount Stores and Paul Cohen himself that is both impressive to see and impossible to overlook; he has turned encouragement and coaching into a multimillion dollar product. The secret to the successful franchising is his involvement. It enables these franchise owners to continuously succeed in making money and has their customer base grow. Through sharing his blueprint, marketing his expertise and encouraging others as they step through the franchise owner transformation, Paul Cohen has made his secret a viable and worthwhile product.
Does your personality fit that of the Dollar Discount franchising candidate?
What do they look for in a franchisee? It is not surprising they are the same characteristics you would seek in an employee or business partner: ambitious, hard working, and capable of following procedures with a customer oriented outlook. In other words, the perfect candidate has an unceasing willingness to succeed if given the right opportunity, tools and mentoring.
Effective training is the cornerstone and foundation that franchise owners build upon. Dollar Discount Stores in suburban Philadelphia pride themselves on the training that prepares the franchisee for true to life situations they will encounter from day to day. The company provides strategies and guidelines for inventory acquisition and management, computer usage and procedures, buying patterns and purchasing techniques. Some franchises describe the one-week training in Boothwyn, PA as a vacation. This must be one fun packed, high-energy week to be considered a vacation when embarking on the uncharted waters of business ownership.
It doesn't stop with the one week of training at the home office. Paul and his core staff of District and Business Managers stay in contact with franchises, explaining how to use the company's volume purchasing power, introduce franchise owners to reliable vendors and provide networking opportunities to keep the business running smoothly. The District Managers are responsible for a group, or cluster, of stores. They share ideas, give recommendations, help set up the store and assist in problem solving. The inside Business Mangers offer guidance in real estate, financing, computing, advertising and whatever other issues a franchisee may be facing. Marketing strategies are taught and updated as a part of company policy, which is evidence that the company serves as an ongoing source for information and expanding possibilities.
The franchises and company employees get together for trade shows and the yearly convention. This time affords them the opportunity to share ideas, breakthroughs and solutions. They meet vendors and begin, or continue, forming relationships with them, which only enhances the purchasing portion of their business.
Last year they met in Canada and were able to visit one of their vendors there. Cohen and his franchisees believe these conventions always return them to their store motivated and with greater buying power. One franchisee described the conventions as a religious revival, where you come back regenerated and refreshed with ideas. The purposes of the annual meeting are to get you involved, add excitement, network with others, stimulate new possibilities and offer the element of camaraderie. From the sound of it, these purposes are always fulfilled.
It seems from concept to completion, dollar discount walks every step of the way with people desiring and daring to make dollars differently. Dollar Discount Stores are all about value: value of the dollar you save, the dollar you invest and the dollar you earn.
"People Behind the Franchi$ed Dollar $igns" (pp. 28-30)
It is one thing to talk to the company, but what about the people who have been there and have taken that leap into the franchising arena? Philadelphia Enterpriser Magazine spoke to 3 franchisees to find out where they were before their Dollar Discount days, how smooth was the transition and how does it look today.
Being a national franchise Philadelphia Enterpriser wanted a snapshot of someone outside the area. For that we spoke to Dave Niewald of Sioux Falls SD. Dave has been a franchisee since 1998. He started one store from scratch and has just recently opened his fourth Dollar Discount Store, all of which are located in the eastern part of South Dakota. Dave's first comment about the company was "everything they said they were going to help with, they did: site location, plans, store fixtures, inventory, and advertising".
How did Dave get started? He worked as a manager for K-mart and as a buyer and seller for an appliance and furniture rental company. He understood retailing, purchasing and management. But he wanted to do something different. He was always apart of a company's success, now he wanted to do it on his own; he wanted more ownership in his work. Dave began searching the pages of Entrepreneur Magazine and found Dollar Discount Stores as an excellent opportunity. After coffee with Paul Cohen and his son, Ron, the opportunity turned into a certainty. The persona of the company owner and his family member were genuine and legitimate to the serious eyes of someone like Dave Niewald. Looking back, Dave noted that PauI Cohen always offered a tremendous amount of input that was high keyed and motivated. In his opinion, if you are willing to dedicate yourself to what you are doing, and you really believe in it- it will work. He certainly believes in Dollar Discount Stores and with 4 stores in two years he is right - it works!
Dave noted that Paul Cohen always offered a tremendous amount of input that was high keyed and motivated.
A franchise owner that is new to this big league is Greg Price from Mantua, NJ. He has been an owner for four months. Greg was a purchasing manager for a plastics manufacturer for 12 years. Coming up in the corporate world he always wanted to own his own business knowing that the corporate policies would forever be in his way. Being in business for himself and willing to go out and hustle he knew that dollar would be there. Better than the dollar, was the knowledge that he would be driving his own destiny.
Greg never stepped out to open his own business, admitting he became too comfortable in his corporate position. The company however, closed the doors completely, and forced him to make the decision he always wanted to make. Greg and his wife Debbie searched the Internet for anything pertaining to dollar stores. He really wanted to go independent and was not embracing the idea of franchising when he first went to talk to Paul Cohen. After that meeting and the discovery of the company philosophy and attitude, Greg was completely sold on being a franchise owner. He took a big chunk of his 401(K) plan and invested in himself. Price admits that the past four months have been relatively smooth and the company always has time to educate and mentor him.
You have to wonder, is it the life of a franchisee, or the touch of Paul Cohen's Dollar Discount Stores, that makes business a real pleasure.
One of the nicest stores that Dollar Discount has is the one located at 498 Second Street Pike in Southampton, Pa. Barry and Bonnie Brown who came to Dollar Discount as an independent business owners own this franchise. Circumstances have added relocation to this family's formula. But when you are in the Dollar Discount Store family, relocation is not a reason to leave your opportunity behind. Barry is going to have a store in Florida and will try to sell his franchise in Southampton. Until I then he will keep both open and operating.
These franchises are content in ownership and problems seem to melt away. You have to wonder, is it the life of a franchisee, or the touch of Paul Cohen's Dollar Discount Stores, that makes business a real pleasure.
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