a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: The Case Study of Dollar General and Surviving (Thriving!) Retail

Cal Turner Jr., Jeff Jordan, and Hanne Winarsky

Posted September 5, 2018

The “death of retail” in the face of e-commerce and tech disruption is a very real phenomenon, but what about the flip side of that story — that is, retail thriving despite all odds?

Enter Dollar General, a multi-billion-dollar success story of the U.S. chain with 14,000 brick-and-mortar dollar stores. So in this episode of the a16z Podcast, general partner Jeff Jordan — who was formerly an SVP for The Disney Stores (and has written much about declining malls, competing with Amazon, and the tipping point for ecommerce, among other things) — with Hanne Tidnam interviews Cal Turner, Jr., the CEO of Dollar General and author of the new book, My Father’s Business: The Small-Town Values That Built Dollar General into a Billion-Dollar Company.

How did Dollar General go from the Great Depression to nearly filing for bankruptcy to IPO and entering the Fortune 500? It turns out, the journey — not unlike startups and successful big companies — is a case study in focus, focus, focus… whether it was pricing (natch) or inventory or a focus on customers or simply (but not so simply!) focusing on one’s “true north”.

photo credit: Mike Mozart/ Flickr