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Dollar General Seeks Out Diverse Vendors with Open Call

Amid calls for more diversity in the retail industry, value retail chain Dollar General is taking an inclusive approach to scouting out new vendors.

On Sept. 16, the retailer will host its digital 2020 Supplier and Diversity Innovation Summit, offering suppliers who have not sold products to Dollar General in the past 18 months the chance to present to the company’s buyers and category managers.

To be eligible for the event, vendors will have to meet at least one diversity certification. Included among the criteria are businesses owned by ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, veterans and those with disabilities. Pitching will also be open to small businesses owned by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.

The open call is focused on categories ranging from beauty, personal care and over the counter health and wellness items to general merchandise and grocery.

Dollar General is taking submissions via consumer packaged goods discovery platform RangeMe through Aug. 7. From there, chosen companies will be contacted Dollar General’s partner Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing, which will provide details for a virtual meeting between the supplier and the retailer’s merchandising team.

“We are excited to host our 2020 Supplier and Diversity Innovation Summit and engage with potential new vendors as part of Dollar General’s continual efforts to provide relevant products to our customers,” said Jason Reiser, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Dollar General.

This search for suppliers comes as Dollar General is opening roughly 1,000 stores this year, and remodeling 1,500 existing doors. Courtesy of its recent expansion, the retailer’s client base has become more geographically diverse. Earlier this year, it raised its coverage to 46 states with the debut of its first location in Washington.

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Dollar General hosted its inaugural open call for vendors in 2018. Then called the Innovation and Supplier Diversity Summit, the event was focused on finding new and unique products.

The chain has made diversity a pillar of its corporate social responsibility efforts, which are centered on the mission “Serving Others.” Together with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the retailer recently pledged $5 million toward racial equality, which will go to organizations that support literacy, education and social and racial justice.

“Respecting the dignity and differences of others is a core value and cultural cornerstone of Dollar General, and this year’s Supplier and Diversity Innovation Summit reflects our ongoing efforts to offer the right products for each unique customer and community we serve,” Johné Battle, Dollar General’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, said in a statement. “We are proud to serve a diverse consumer base throughout the communities we call home and look forward to the opportunity to find more relevant products to meet their needs.”

Dollar General’s efforts around inclusion could win it valuable younger generations. A 2018 study from Accenture found that half of millennials are more apt to shop with a retailer that shows awareness of diversity issues related to age, gender, ethnicity and disability.