Family Dollar recently applied for malt liquor licenses at 23 stores across Louisville. Many of those are on the city’s west and south sides, which are home to some of the poorest neighborhoods.
Dollar stores in general are prevalent in these areas, a trend some see as exploitative of lower-income families who may have to choose convenience over quality.
The liquor license applications will be considered by a local board before going to the state level. Some Louisville Metro Council members are planning a distributed but coordinated protest that they hope will lead to the licenses being denied.
Council president David James represents District 6, which includes the Park Hill and California neighborhoods. He said Family Dollar stores in his district are bad corporate neighbors and a source of many complaints. They fail to keep their properties clean and let trash pile up behind their stores, he said. On top of that, the quality of their products is not always good.
“I don’t see them maintaining what they already have so I don’t feel that they’re going to be a benefit to the community,” he said.
James is calling on people to protest at their neighborhood Family Dollar stores at 6 p.m. on July 30. But showing up at the stores is only part of the ask. James wants people to write protest letters to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control board as well. The board reads those letters, which would serve to put people’s protests on the record, he said.
“They are trying to saturate the market where they’re located with package liquor sales and those happen to be in areas that have a lot of poor and disadvantaged people so I think it’s important that we stand up and say no,” James said.
District 2 Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin is also opposed to Family Dollar stores selling liquor. She said she thinks there are already too many liquor stores and dollar stores selling liquor in her district. She is also leading protests against a proposed liquor store in Newburg.
“We would rather have anything in our neighborhood other than another liquor store, we don’t need any more liquor stores,” she said.
She said she would like to see more diversity in retail in her district.
In an email, a spokeswoman for Family Dollar said the company aims to offer customers options.
“We are simply trying to provide our customers with a convenient option to purchase adult beverages while shopping for their everyday needs,” the email read.
She did not respond to follow-up questions.