Shoppers Are Threatening to Boycott Dollar Tree—Here's Why
The company is under fire for a major ongoing issue.
Dollar Tree became a fan-favorite store over the years due to its remarkably low price point of—you guessed it—$1. But in 2021, the company shocked shoppers across the U.S. by raising the prices on most of its items by 25 cents. Some customers even said that the dollar store chain's decision to raise prices left them feeling "sick to their stomachs," according to Insider. Now, the company is back in the spotlight again for all the wrong reasons. A group of shoppers are outraged—and they're threatening a boycott. Read on to find out what has some customers so upset.
One of Dollar Tree's brands was just investigated by the FDA.
Dollar Tree Inc. doesn't only operate low-price stores in its own name. It also owns Family Dollar after acquiring the brand in 2015, and a number of Family Dollar stores were just at the center of an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Feb. 18, the agency released an alert, notifying shoppers that in Jan. 2022 it had begun an inspection of the Family Dollar distribution facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, "following a consumer complaint."
According to the FDA, a number of unsanity conditions were found at the facility, including "live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination." More than 1,100 dead rodents were recovered from the facility through the FDA's investigation and internal company records showed a collection of more than 2,300 rodents from the warehouse between Mar. 29 and Sept. 17, 2021, "demonstrating a history of infestation," the agency said.
Some shoppers are threatening to boycott Dollar Tree because of this.
As a result of the investigation, Dollar Tree Inc. had to temporarily close more than 400 Family Dollar stores in mid to late February throughout six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The company has just started slowly reopening these stores, Memphis-based news site The Commercial Appeal reported on March 1.
But a group of shoppers who serve as community leaders in Memphis are threatening to boycott Dollar Tree Inc.'s brands over the state of unclean stores as they open some of their Family Dollar doors back up, the news outlet reported. The Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association held a press conference on March 1 where leaders discussed the situation and said that more tangible actions are needed from Dollar Tree to regain community trust.
According to Rev. Rickey Dugger Sr. and Patricia Rogers, these actions will need to specifically include maintaining clean properties and stores. "We're asking them to make a collective effort to clean up, and clean up their act," Dugger said. He added they are not yet calling for an actual boycott of the company's stores but that they are advising congregations to be mindful of what they're purchasing.
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The FDA said certain products bought from the affected Family Dollar stores should not be used.
The unsanitary conditions found at the West Memphis Family Dollar facility could have contaminated a number of products that were shipped from the warehouse and distributed to various store locations in the six states. Rodent contamination can result in salmonella poisoning and other infectious diseases, per the FDA. The agency has worked with Family Dollar to initiate a voluntary recall of affected FDA-regulated products, which include any human foods, cosmetics, animal foods, medical devices, and over-the-counter medications bought from the shuttered Family Dollar stores since Jan. 1, 2021.
"Consumers are advised not to use and to contact the company regarding impacted products. The agency is also advising that all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and dietary supplements, regardless of packaging, be discarded," the FDA said. "Food in non-permeable packaging (such as undamaged glass or all-metal cans) may be suitable for use if thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Consumers should wash their hands immediately after handling any products from the affected Family Dollar stores."
Dollar Tree said it is taking the situation very seriously.
Amid potential boycotts, Dollar Tree Inc. has assured customers and leaders that they are appropriately responding to the FDA investigation of the West Memphis Family Dollar facility. "We take situations like this very seriously and are committed to providing safe and quality products to our customers. We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue," Kayleigh Campbell, the director of investor relations for Dollar Tree Inc., told The Commercial Appeal.
According to Campbell, part of this serious effort included the company closing hundreds of Family Dollar stores after the investigation. She said the stores were temporarily shuttered in order to give workers time to remove the recalled products and sanitize shelves. "We are in the process of reopening stores gradually. We do not have a timetable at this point," Campbell added.
The director did not provide a comment on whether or not the company would remove non-FDA regulated items from the Family Dollar Stores as well, which is a concern for some leaders. During the press conference, Rogers said it is possible that items not under FDA regulation could still be available for sale in Family Dollar Stores, despite these products also having come from the same rodent-infested facility.