The Guilford County Planning Department is seeing a red hot new trend across the county: Dollar Generals and small stores like it are popping up all over like mushrooms after a big rain in summer.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Guilford County Planning Board heard a rezoning case for yet another Dollar General – this one in southeastern Guilford County at the intersection of Alamance Church Road and Old Julian Road.  The rezoning was approved on a 5-to-1 vote despite opposition from some residents in the area.

Guilford County Planning Director Leslie Bell said he hasn’t gone back and totaled the number of stores that have gone up in Guilford County lately, but he said it’s quite striking.  He said he’d become so interested in what was going on that he began researching it and he said it’s part of a national phenomenon.

“To me, it’s reminiscent of Wal-Mart years ago,” he said of the trend.

He said Wal-Marts and big box stores might have cause to worry since it looks like soon these smaller stores will be just about everywhere.

“I used to call them corner stores,” Bell said.

He added that, though these are somewhat like corner stores of old, they’re evolving.  For instance, while the in past the stores have looked like a boring brick boxes, he said the stores now often have architecture that mimics the surroundings.  The coming Dollar General addressed at the meeting Wednesday night is going to have a “country” appearance, he said.

He also said Dollar Generals and similar stores are starting to do things like sell fresh fruits and vegetables.  Bell said he thought the opening of the Renaissance Community Coop may have had some influence on that added service for Guilford County stores.  That Coop brought fresh healthier foods to a section of east Greensboro that had limited food choices.

He said he read that about 450 Dollar General stores would be selling fresh fruits and vegetables.  The new store at Alamance Church Road and Old Julian Road will do so.

Bell said there’s often some opposition from those in the neighborhood, but added that others who live nearby want the convenience of a, well, convenient store – especially since a lot of these locations have little retail available.

Bell also said that developers had been doing a very good job recently of meeting with neighbors when a store was about to go up.

“Sometimes they meet with them before we even know about it,” Bell said.