This past July, the Henniker planning board came to the decision to move forward with a plan to accept a Dollar General into town. Since its first mention, the Dollar General plans have elicited mixed opinions from Henniker residents.
The new 9,100 square foot building is to be built across from the Henniker Farm & Country Store but the land has not yet been sold. Kamini Jorgensen, a Henniker native for over 15 years, said putting a “big box store” into town will cause the town to “lose some of its rustic, homey values.”
Nearly all businesses in Henniker are family owned. Henniker Pharmacy and College Convenience could be in serious trouble with the incoming competition.
“I know a lot of people say they won’t go to Dollar General,” said Jorgensen. “But they might give in because it’s cheaper than the other businesses in town.”
She isn’t the only one who feels this way. According to The Concord Monitor, over 1200 Henniker residents, including Jorgenson, have signed a petition to not shop at the new store once built. With Henniker’s population ranging at roughly around 4900 this marks nearly 25 percent of the town as uninterested.
But, Henniker is a college town, home to New England College where students come from all over to enjoy the New Hampshire lifestyle while also earning their degrees. The general consensus among several students is that a Dollar General would add greatly to the town and certainly provide convenience in regard to expenses.
Shamandra Fortunat, a second year student, finds herself excited for the new store and the new opportunities for the college community the store will provide.
“I think Dollar General has a potential to thrive in Henniker because of New England College,” Fortunat said. “I would find myself shopping at Dollar General versus College Convenience or the Pharmacy because it’s cheaper.”
The store would be a much farther walk from campus past the Mobil station, but Fortunat says for the price she wouldn’t mind.
Although prices will be significantly less than what is available in the immediate down town of Henniker, residents opposing Dollar General say that quality shows when it comes to big box businesses versus the mom & pop shops in town.
“What Dollar General sells is crap,” said Henniker resident Charlotte Russell. “The vast majority of people that live in Henniker don’t want the store, and there are plenty of businesses in Henniker that offer better quality goods.”
Russell strongly feels that there is not a demand for a store such as Dollar General in the town of Henniker. Having lived in Henniker for a majority of her life, she knows that Henniker is Henniker because of its tight knit community.
“It’s a horrible idea and the store will not thrive in Henniker,” she said shaking her head. “I mean, you drive down through the center of Henniker and you see numerous signs reading, ‘the Dollar General won’t get my dollar’ because residents simply don’t want it here.”
Back in June, The Concord Monitor spoke with Resident John Kjellman at one of the planning board meetings. Kjellman mentioned that the town is in a conflict with itself as residents want to keep chain businesses out while also wanting businesses to come in and pay into the tax base.
“We hear over and over that we want businesses in town, businesses to pay taxes,” Kjellman said. “I don’t particularly like Dollar General, but it is within the rules of our master plan.”
Despite disapproving Henniker residents, the plans for the build are moving forward quickly and official building grounds are being located.
“I don’t think any big box stores will ever be welcomed in to Henniker with open arms,” said Jorgensen. “It’s just not the way we do things around here.”