- In February, FDA inspectors found a rodent infestation at one of Family Dollar’s warehouses.
- Because of this, Family Dollar – and its sister chain Dollar Tree – have come under scrutiny.
- Workers at these chains say that pest issues have been going on for years.
It’s been six months since Jayson started his job as a cashier at a Family Dollar store in Maine and he’s already preparing to quit.
He’s tired of working in a store that’s understaffed, unclean, and unsafe because it’s so stacked up with boxes of inventory, he tells Insider.
Jayson – who did not wish to share his full name through fear of retribution but whose identity is known to Insider – is one of 12 former and current Family Dollar and Dollar Tree workers who shared similar experiences in recent conversations. The Family Dollar chain is owned by Dollar Tree.
These workers described the conditions in the chains’ stores as “unhygienic and disgusting,” where rodents roam in backrooms that are piled high with boxes, and around stores that are rarely cleaned.
Their comments, which come in the wake of an FDA investigation that unearthed a rodent infestation at one of Family Dollar’s distribution centers in Arkansas and led to it temporarily closing 404 stores, suggest that the rodent issues are far more widespread than at just one warehouse.
In a statement to Insider, Kayleigh Campbell, a spokesperson for both Dollar Tree and Family Dollar said that the company is “committed to providing safe and quality products” for customers and “complying with all applicable federal, state and local occupational health and safety laws.”
‘To call it chaotic is an understatement’
While Jayson hasn’t seen a live rodent in the shopping area of his store, he has disposed of dead rats caught in traps in the stock room and come across rodent faeces.
“My location is constantly dirty, floors not maintained, dirt and dust everywhere, and completely infested with spiders,” he said.
“There is so much stuff in the back room that you can’t move it all to clean, even if we had the time or were asked to,” he added.
Jayson said that the company knowingly understaffs its stores to keep costs down, which means there aren’t enough workers to empty these backrooms. But even if there were, the company’s chaotic inventory system means that his store is still completely overstocked all the time, he said.
“They don’t have enough room in the distribution centers so they’ll just send us all of their junk so that it can sit in our backroom instead of theirs,” he said.
A spokesperson for Family Dollar did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on how its restocking process works.
Scott Mushkin, CEO of consultancy firm R5 Capital, witnessed these inventory pile-ups first-hand during store visits to more than 60 Dollar Tree stores between the fall of 2021 and February of this year.
In a recent conversation with Insider, he said that in his 20-plus year career as a consultant to the
, he’s never seen anything like what he encountered in these backrooms.
“To call it chaotic is really an understatement, their inventory system is completely out of control from our perspective,” he told Insider. “Rodents are a symptom of the disease, not the disease,” he said, clarifying that the mountains of boxes in these backrooms were providing cover for rodents.
It paints a similar picture to what Insider found during store visits to two of Dollar Tree’s Brooklyn locations in 2022 and 2018 where boxes were stacked up in the middle of the store or left to be unloaded on abandoned crates.
Mushkin told Insider that these inventory pile-ups could be caused by supply chain challenges and stock arriving at the wrong time or staffing issues because of the labor crunch. However, conversations with former Dollar Tree and Family Dollar store workers who worked at these chains as far back as 2005 indicated that both piled-up stockrooms and rodent infestations have been an issue at some locations for years.
Richard Kirschke, who worked for a third-party logistics company delivering stock to Family Dollar stores across the US between October 2020 and January 2021, described their backrooms as a “nightmare” where you could clearly smell rodent activity.
“It’s some of the worst retail real estate,” he told Insider. “They [Family Dollar] just didn’t care about anything related to stores, the upkeep, and maintenance.”
Some communities are now threatening to boycott these discount chains and saying that they’re putting shoppers at risk. Dollar store chains are growing at a rapid rate in the US and are often criticized for driving out competitors in local communities by undercutting competitors on price, which means that in some areas, they are the only places to shop.
One former Family Dollar store worker who quit her job at a store in Freeport, New York in February and who wished to remain anonymous but whose identity is known to Insider, said that this is the most distressing part of the mismanagement of these stores.
“I live and shop in this community,” she said. “Only after I began working at this location did I become aware of the conditions.
“When you think of the filth that my family members and neighbors – not to mention myself – have possibly consumed … it makes me sick to my stomach,” she said.