Oregon Town Bans Dollar Stores

The idyllic town of Joseph, nestled among the Wallowa mountain range in northeast Oregon, has banned dollar stores following a backlash surrounding the opening of a Dollar General store in the county. Joseph, which is home to around 1,200 people, passed legislation last month banning specific types of business from operating within the city limits. The law doesn’t identify any stores by name, but effectively means chain stores, specifically dollar stores. The ban came after campaigns by local businesses against the opening of a Dollar General store in nearby Wallowa earlier this year. Residents want to protect local businesses amid rumors that the discount store plans to open more locations in the area. The legislation specifically bans “formula” businesses from operating in Joseph. Formula businesses are establishments with multiple locations and standardized features or a recognizable appearance, particularly for exterior color schemes, signs or architectural design. The law makes an exception for gas stations, banks, and a few other business types. Erika Polmar, who founded the campaign group No Dollar General, says the stores have become a symbol of communities in crisis. “Their presence sends the message to other businesses that a community lacks the wealth to be worthy of investment,” said Polmar. While the group was not able to prevent the opening of the Dollar General store in Wallowa, it is adamant that the company does not spread to Joseph or nearby Enterprise. Joseph isn’t alone — a report last year revealed that at least 75 communities have blocked proposed dollar store development proposals since 2019.