Family Dollar Closed 400 Stores for Rodents Last Year—And It Just Closed Another
The popular dollar store chain is facing infestation issues once again.
With prices still high across the board, far more of us are relying on dollar stores these days. But while these retailers offer consistently low prices, several popular discount chains have been called out for concerning store conditions over the last year. Both Dollar General and Dollar Tree have been hit with hefty fines for hazards such as blocked exit routes and unsafely stacked boxes. And Family Dollar found itself in the midst of major controversy in 2022 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered a rodent infestation at one its warehouses, prompting the temporary closure of 400 stores. Now, Family Dollar is in the news again for a rodent problem that has forced it to shut down another location. Read on to find out about the latest dollar chain closure.
Family Dollar temporarily closed 400 stores in 2022 because of a rodent infestation.
In Jan. 2022, the FDA initiated an investigation at Family Dollar's distribution center in West Memphis, Arkansas, after receiving a customer complaint.
The agency discovered a disturbing scene, uncovering a number of unsanitary conditions. This included a major rodent infestation, with the FDA reporting that it had found "live rodents, dead rodents of various states of decay, rodent excreta pellets (REPs), gnawings, nesting, and odors indicative of rodents" throughout the entire facility.
As a result of this discovery, Family Dollar temporarily closed more than 400 stores throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee last February. The retailer also had to issue a recall for products that were shipped from the facility to the locations in these states.
Family Dollar reopened these stores, but the company eventually chose to permanently shut down the West Memphis warehouse last year in light of the overwhelming rodent problem. And at one Family Dollar location, rats are causing issues again.
The retailer is shuttering another store for the same problem.
The Family Dollar in Westbrook, Maine, is currently closed to customers, the American Journal reported. According to the newspaper, the city has posted a "dangerous building" sign outside of the store.
"The Family Dollar building was posted as such due to a pest issue. Once the situation is addressed, the operations could then resume," Jennie Franceschi, director of planning and code enforcement in Westbrook, told the American Journal.
When asked for further specificity, Franceschi added, "The pest is rodents, and just to clarify, the issue is specific to the Family Dollar leased space that is temporarily closed to the public."
Family Dollar confirmed that this location is temporarily closed.
As of March 30, the Westbrook Family Dollar is listed as "temporarily closed" on the retailer's online store locator.
Mery Simonds, who identified herself as the store's manager, also confirmed the closure in Facebook comments, according to the American Journal. She did not specifically mention rodents, however.
"Just wanted to officially let the public know the Westbrook Family Dollar is closed until further notice," Simonds wrote, per the newspaper. "No, there is no current re-open date. There's many repairs that need to be done and cleaning before we can open our doors again."
The building owner is currently working to address the issue, according to Franceschi. Robert Burnham, a Westbrook resident who works at a different store in the downtown area, told the American Journal that he has seen several pest control workers at the Family Dollar alongside other workers wearing "hazmat suits" to enter and exit the store. Material has also been removed from the Westbrook Family Dollar and put into a dumpster placed outside, Burnham said.
When asked about the closure, Kristin Tetreault, chief communications officer of Family Dollar's parent company Dollar Tree Inc, told Best Life that the company's "first priority" is the safety of its associates and customers. "We take situations like this very seriously. Our field leadership team has implemented an extensive action plan, including working closely with pest control services, to ensure any issues are fully addressed," Tetreault said. "We do not know when the store will re-open as we continue to address the situation."
Rodents in retail spaces can put consumers at risk.
No one wants to find out that a store they frequent is overrun with rodents. In addition to being unsightly, these pests can have serious health consequences for shoppers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that "rats and mice are known to carry many diseases," and illnesses can spread to humans in different ways, including through "breathing in air or eating food that is contaminated with rodent waste."
A rodent infestation can cause products in a store to become contaminated, and handling these items can put people's health at risk through diseases like Salmonella, according to the FDA.
"Families rely on stores like Family Dollar for products such as food and medicine. They deserve products that are safe," Judith McMeekin, PharmD, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in Feb. 2022 amid the agency's initial investigation.