A buck, and then some, go farther with opening

Dollar Plus + opened for business today, bringing back a bargain option in Milton-Freewater.

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Dollar Plus+ employee Joe McCutcheon hugs a friend as she comes into the store on their opening day in Milton-Freewater. McCutcheon, who worked at the old dollar store in Milton-Freewater before it closed, is now happily employed by the new store in the former ACE Hardware building. Thursday, April 14, 2011

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Dollar Plus+ manager Scott Holgate tows a freshly inflated balloon toward the front of the store on their opening day in the former ACE Hardware store in Milton-Freewater. Thursday, April 14, 2011

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Dollar Plus+ employee Joe McCutcheon works on strapping a customer parking only sign to a post in the former ACE Hardware parking lot that is now home to Milton-Freewater's new dollar store. McCutcheon, who worked at the old dollar store before it closed, said it "feels good to be working." "Unemployment's no enjoyment," he added. Thursday, April 14, 2011

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Long shelves and hangers of items ranging from $1 plus line the isles at Milton-Freewater's newest store Dollar Plus+. Thursday, April 14, 2011

MILTON-FREEWATER -- The doors to the community's new dollar store hadn't even ceremoniously opened this morning before the first customers began ambling through the aisles of groceries, greeting cards and household goods.

"It's more like a soft, soft opening," quipped Scott Holgate, co-owner and operator of the new Dollar Plus + store via telephone.

Any doubt that the community had been missing a store specializing in $1 items was quickly quelled as a couple of shoppers began searching for snacks and hair-care products an hour before the store at 11 N. Columbia St. actually opened.

Over the last couple of weeks local residents have entered the former Henry's Ace Hardware building believing the store was already open. It cemented to Holgate the need for a retailer that offers deep discounts on day-to-day items.

"It seems like people have missed the Dollar Store," he said. "They're so glad another one is coming."

Bargain toys, cleaning supplies, party-planning necessities, pet items, groceries and much more fill the aisles of Milton-Freewater's new store -- the second retailer to open in as many weeks after the unveiling of Super Mex.

About a dozen distributors supply Dollar Plus +, Holgate said.

The new store has a couple of changes from the business model that shoppers previously knew. The new store has three price points: $1, $1.25 and $1.50. It also carries Costco wholesale, carry and return items. That includes items people returned to Costco, but that the store does not return to its own shelves. Everything from laundry detergent to washing machines are included. The inventory rotates, but anything available at Costco has a chance of making it into the inventory there, Holgate said.

Additionally the store also carries a selection of surplus consignment office furniture that comes from Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

The re-introduction of another dollar store was part of the plan when Henry's Ace Hardware moved out of the building late last year. But it also goes back even a little farther than that -- to last May when the pending closure of the community's Dollar Store was announced. The owners of that store, located at 175 S. Main St., announced plans to close as parent company Liquidation Outlet Inc. was going out of business.

Doug Henry began pursuing the purchase of the more than 18,500-square-foot building -- a little more than double the size of the Ace spot on Columbia St. His vision was to move Ace into the old Dollar Store spot, then re-open another discount retailer to replace the one that closed.

The venture became a family business. Holgate, Linda Henry's son, and his wife, Melissa, joined his brother, Paul Henry and fiance, Kari Tifft, in a partnership on the new store located in the old Ace spot.

A couple of employees from the previous Dollar Store also joined the team. About five employees total work at the store, Holgate said. He said the new store will be a place where local residents can not only get a little bit of everything, but get it inexpensively.

"Milton-Freewater seems to be a community where people like their bargains," he said. "And we're just full of them."

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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