One Buck At A Time

by Ryan Miller

By Jamie McAllister

Book Details
Title: One Buck at a Time: An Insider’s Account of How Dollar Tree Remade American Retail
Authors: Macon Brock with Earl Swift
Publisher: Beachnut Publishing
Length: 216 pp
Price: $24.95

Chances are you have stopped at a Dollar Tree to purchase some last-minute items, such as extra cups or napkins for the company picnic. But as you dashed out the door, your mission complete, did you ever ponder how you could buy those cups or napkins for the can’t-be-beat price of only $1 each? In the new book, One Buck at a Time: An Insider’s Account of How Dollar Tree Remade American Retail, Dollar Tree cofounder and retired CEO Macon Brock, along with coauthor Earl Swift, leads readers through Dollar Tree’s history and explains how, more than 30 years later, the company is still able to sell such a broad range of items for only $1.

Part business manual and part memoir, Brock talks about his early days in Norfolk after the end of WWII. His recollections offer an interesting peek into the history of Coastal Virginia, especially for folks who are not natives of the region. The book is also part love story, as Brock details the beginnings of his relationship with his wife, Joan, and the resulting marriage that has spanned more than five decades.

A Randolph-Macon College graduate and Marine Corps veteran, Brock started his retail career at Ben Franklin, a discount variety store. He parlayed that experience into a toy store called K&K Toys based out of Norfolk. It wasn’t until 1986 that a colleague got the idea to start a dollar store. Brock recounts the difficulties they had getting mall management companies on board with the revolutionary idea of a store that sells items for only one dollar. Despite being told that it couldn’t be done, Brock and his colleagues persisted. Today the Dollar Tree chain consists of more than 14,000 stores, employs 165,000 people and makes billions of dollars in revenue.

Brock leaves no stone unturned when detailing the success of Dollar Tree. He highlights key employees and offers a bird’s-eye view of how the chain operates, from using the price point of $1 as leverage with manufacturers and wholesalers to the complex inner workings of the company’s 11 distribution centers. Complete with pictures and Brock’s leisurely Southern wit, One Buck at a Time gives readers a deeper appreciation for something usually taken for granted—the dollar store.

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