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FARMINGTON — Two more dollar stores — a Dollar General in Flora Vista and a Family Dollar in Waterflow — are scheduled to open their doors to shoppers this spring.

"When choosing store locations, meeting customers’ needs is Dollar General’s top priority," Dollar General spokeswoman Crystal Ghassemi said from the company's headquarters in Goodlettsville, Tenn.

Currently under construction, the new Dollar General store is located just east of Farmers Market on N.M. Highway 516 in Flora Vista.

"The company looks for places where we can offer customers an easy and convenient shopping choice," she said. "We know convenience is a major factor in our customers' shopping decisions as we generally serve customers within a three to five mile radius, or 10 minute drive. We also take demographic trends, competitive factors, traffic patterns and community concerns into consideration."

The Flora Vista store will be the 11th Dollar General in the county. There are two in Aztec, two in Bloomfield, five in Farmington and one in Kirtland.

About 25 percent of Dollar General's merchandise is priced at $1 or less, Ghassemi said.

The new store will create between six to 10 jobs, Ghassemi said.

A Family Dollar, the company's sixth store in the county, will open in May according to spokeswoman Bryn Winburn, who spoke from the company's headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.

Located at 2 Road 6953 in Waterflow, the store will create about eight to 10 jobs, Winburn said.

Last year, Family Dollar was bought by rival discount retailer Dollar Tree for $8.7 billion, according to the company's website. Dollar General, which was the largest of the discount store brands before that purchase with about 12,000 stores in the U.S., also was vying to buy Family Dollar. Dollar Tree is the only of the three discount stores that sells all items for $1 or less, according to the company's website.

New retail construction like dollar stores and auto parts stores have been a familiar sight in the area, according to San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter, providing a welcome boost to a sagging economy heavily dependent on the ailing oil and gas industry.

Plans to construct an O'Reilly Auto Parts store on the corner of West Aztec Boulevard and Ash Avenue in Aztec are in progress, according to City Manager Josh Ray.

That project, which will be right across the highway from an AutoZone, required approval by the city commission after cost estimates for construction caused the developer to ask the city of Aztec to cover about $100,000 in infrastructure costs to ensure the store would be built.

Carpenter said that the investment by national chains like Dollar General and O'Reilly Auto Parts — perhaps especially during a local downturn caused by the low price of crude oil on the commodities market — in the area is encouraging.

"One of the things is that even though we're in a downturn, in an area where the staple of oil and gas (is) hurting right now, it's encouraging to see these brands invest in our community," Carpenter said. "It tells a couple of things — these businesses  would not be investing here if they were not forecasting steady growth. All of the dollar stores ... have been extremely fast-growing all over the country, even while the economy has struggled nationally."

Carpenter said the stores, which represent a relatively small percentage of overall construction and gross receipts tax revenue, do generate a modicum of jobs and serve the community, providing goods and services that people need locally.

It also underscores the county's reputation for being a retail hub in the Four Corners, he said.

"At the same time, there's also been a real realization for businesses that search to expand that San Juan County is a real marketplace," Carpenter said.

The area's population doubles and triples on weekends with shoppers coming from all over the Four Corners area. Carpenter said the stores' investment in new locations locally gives him greater confidence — along with new fast food restaurants and hotels being built — that the local economy is headed in the right direction.

"That's something that encourages me because it tells me that, overall, given some time, we'll stabilize," he said. "It will just take some time."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

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