While there are over 170 Dollar General stores in New Jersey, only one is a DG Market… and it is located in the small town of Elmer in Salem County.
I stopped in earlier this month to check out what the DG Market concept is all about, and wondered why there aren’t more throughout the State, and how did they land in Elmer?!
Honestly I had no idea it was there or that DG Market stores even existed.
I was driving through the town and saw signage that I didn’t fully recognize, but at the same time it felt a little familiar… so I pulled into check the place out.
Quite simply DG Market is a newer (to us in New Jersey) Dollar General concept which takes the traditional store that were all very familiar with and adds in a larger selection of fresh products including produce, meat, fairy products, and other perishable foods.
Part Dollar General, part Aldi?
To support the additional product selection the stores are larger than a traditional Dollar General Store, typically twice the size. The Elmer store is larger than a standard Dollar General but not twice the size.
Some have been developed completely new as DG Markets in their larger size, but others have been converted from an existing Dollar General store.
DG Market – What is Different?
While I was unfamiliar with DG Market, you know that after I toured the store I went home and researched it to find out what it was truly all about.
And it seems I’m not the only one who’s been analyzing Dollar General things!
DG Market has been in development at Dollar General for a long time but never made it’s way to New Jersey until now.
I’ve read that Dollar General in analyzing their product sales categories, realized that one of the recent larger growth areas was in their fresh and frozen food sections. This was likely due to the changing shopping patterns during the Covid pandemic.
So looking to explore this further they have been developing additional DG Market stores to expand on those product categories, in consumer areas or situations where it made the most sense for them.
I was short on time so I did a quick pass through the store, but it didn’t take long to understand where the differences were with the DG Market.
Mostly you can pick up the details looking at my photos with associate with this article.
So start with a standard Dollar General store, and add to it an expanded grocery section, with a larger focus on perishable products.
There are more front-glass refrigerator and freezer units.
Open front refrigerator units along the left sidewall featured packaged fresh vegetables, which included carrots, celery, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers and more. Packages of salads, coleslaws and more we’re also available.
And directly next to the refrigerated produce section was a dedicated unit for fresh meats! Yes steaks, ground beef, chicken and more were available in this updated Dollar General!
A center aisle bin area featured non-refrigerated vegetables and fruit including bananas, potatoes, onions, garlic and more.
I mean overall it’s what you would see in an Aldi Grocery, maybe with not as many choices but covering a lot of the similar categories.
So why did they choose Elmer to pioneer the State’s first and only DG Market?
Don’t get me wrong, Elmer is a lovely town and quite deserving but of all the places in New Jersey where National companies try out new concepts, how did they find this location in a very rural community?
My theory is the answer comes down to building size.
Schalick Mills Feed Store
A 1949 article in the Times Journal out of Vineland announced the opening of a new large feed mill in Elmer NJ called Schalick Mills Inc.
It was touted as the first bulk mash mixing plant in Southern New Jersey.
The business was not new. They were relocating to Elmer from Centerton, after the Centerton facility was destroyed in a fire 5 years prior back in 1944.
The article goes on to say that the business started in 1891, so at the time of the Elmer Feed Mill opening they were already close to 60 years old!
Looking through the Times Journal newspapers of that era it seems that the Schalick family were quite well known in the county, especially considering farming and livestock was a core business for a large portion of the community.
A large feed mill tower existed on the Elmer property up until around 2019 when it was demolished, although by that time it had long decayed past it’s point of usefulness.
And directly next to that towering feed mill, an almost 12,000 ft Schalick Mills feed store was opened on Front Street, just a few homes down from the town center of Front and Main Streets.
For many the Schalick Mills feed store was a key part of the community, functioning as a feed store hardware store, and community hub.
Unfortunately I never got the chance to fully experience shopping at the store but in talking to locals in a recent visit I understand it was very important to people
So what does all this have to do with Dollar General, and DG Market?
Well in the counties of Gloucester and Camden we’re used to seeing Dollar Generals typically developed as brand new buildings.
But where the opportunity is right, Dollar General will take over an older building… sometimes one that has history within the community!
As an example, very recently in Pine Hill a Dollar General opened inside the old Perk’s Market.
So you can see where this is going, in Elmer New Jersey a Dollar General took over the old Schalick Mills feed store.
The store originally reopened as a traditional Dollar General store.
But remember I said the size was around 12,000 ft? Well the typical Dollar General store is under 8,000 square feet.
The Elmer building was deeper than wider, so when Dollar General took over they weren’t able to split the building off to a second unit.. So for a while they just rolled with the 12,000 sq ft.
Which made the Elmer Dollar General building a full 50% larger than one of their traditional stores.
And somewhere at Dollar General Corporate the likely ran an analysis “Give me a list of all stores that are located in buildings greater than 10,000 square feet” and just like that… Elmer gets converted into a DG Market.
Well some of that was my theory!
I spoke to an awesome young man who worked the register at the DG Market, who explained to me that it converted over to DG Market sometime last summer in 2023.
He shared with me stories of how he knew many in the community were upset about the original opening of Dollar General, but he also understood that the old feed store was gone and it was better to have an operating business there than none at all.
Links and Locations
100 Front St
Elmer, NJ 08318
DG Market Store Webpage