Competitors see Dollar General as sign of Bath’s growth

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Spagnuolo’s Party Store manager Jon Spagnuolo. Photo by David Reinke.

Bath Township’s Dollar General officially opened Oct. 14 on the heavy-traffic corner of Clark Road and Webster Road, across from Spagnuolo’s Party Store.

“The community is excited,” Dollar General manager Damon Argersinger said. “They’ve been waiting for us. We’ve built it from the ground up, and they’ve been waiting for this.”

Dollar General promotes itself as “America’s neighborhood general store,” but Spagnuolo’s Party Store manager Jon Spagnuolo, son of owner Jim Spagnuolo, said he and his father are not worried about the new competition.

“To me, it’s not a big deal,” Jon Spagnuolo said. “I mean if people shop there, people shop there.”

Spagnuolo said he believes the new Dollar General is a good sign for Bath’s growing community.

“I see it as a compliment to the Bath community, to be totally honest with you,” Spagnuolo said. “They saw us as a thriving community. … They saw it as an opportunity. I don’t blame them.”

So far, community response has been almost all positive, Argersinger said.

John Reich owns Superior Car Care, located about a mile from Dollar General, and said Dollar General has the capacity to benefit Bath by bringing in local jobs.

“I think that anything in Bath that helps build … is wonderful,” John Reich said. “I think anything that has work opportunities for a lot of the people that are, for lack of an expression, trapped here because of their financial ability—they don’t have good transportation, or can’t— [is beneficial].”

Argersinger said the location will attract people who don’t want to drive all the way to Meijer.

Serving the community: “That’s what Dollar General does. Just tries to get into the community,” he said.

Jon Spagnuolo isn’t worried about having competition in close proximity. He says there is enough of a difference between the two businesses that Spagnuolo’s will still serve its purpose. John Reich agrees.

“Anytime you have somebody that sells a similar product you’re going to have competition,” John Reich said. “But Spagnuolo’s also sells prepared food: they sell gasoline, they sell fast, quick items. They are not a store that sells any type of clothing; almost nothing in the line of paper products, school supplies, that kind of thing.

“So, are they going to impact? Sure. Are they in direct competition? No.”

For some, the issue lies not in whether Dollar General will take too much business or not, but if it will get enough to last. Superior Car Care co-owner Verneta Reich said several previous businesses that have occupied the same corner have struggled or failed to survive.

“I’m not sure how well it’ll do,” Verneta Reich said. “I guess the best way to put it is those who oppose it will stand behind [that] and not support. And I’m afraid that what support they’re going to get isn’t going to make enough money to actually keep them here.”

Still, Reich said she plans to support the new store.

“I made a deal with the daughter-in-law that we’ll go in together,” she said. “I kind of like the idea that there’s something else in town.”

Jon Spagnuolo said he misses the trees that once stood where Dollar General was built; a sentiment he said his customers have echoed.

“I can understand that,” Spagnuolo said. “But [Dollar General] bought the land, they purchased it and they can do whatever they want with it. That’s their thing. It was their call. That’s unfortunately not something that was up to vote for the community.”

For the most part, however, Spagnuolo and his coworkers are unfazed.

“I think we all kind of feel similarly,” he said. “In the sense that we’re just going to keep doing what we do best and keep serving the Bath community. And [customers] will do what they do.”

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