Dollars to dimes: Disparity, uncertainty, and marketing to the poor at US dollar stores

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This article contextualizes the growth of dollar stores in the United States within multinational corporations’ increased focus on poor people as growth markets. Dollar stores have existed since the 1950s, however they have become increasingly popular and ubiquitous since the 1990s after a decade of economic liberalization policies increased wealth and income disparity around the world. Analysis of retail trade publications, popular press, and corporate documents indicate the contradictions that these retailers and consumer goods companies face in targeting low-income consumers in the United States. They seek to dissociate themselves from US economic decline and loss even as the modes of production and circuits of distribution they employ indicate the erosion of an exceptional American middle-class consumerism. Thus, dollar stores both index the tensions of late capitalist globalization while also obscuring widespread disenfranchisement through the promise of inclusion and access for marginalized populations.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • American dream
  • consumer culture
  • dollar store
  • downward brand extensions
  • economic disparity
  • globalization
  • poverty


  • Marketing
  • Economics
  • Growth and Development

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