Family Dollar was founded in 1959 by a then 21-year-old Leon Levine. Leon became obsessed with a store in New York called Filene’s. They sold the cheapest possible items in the basement. Leon figured that if they could do it, so could he. He had been working at his parent’s five and dime clothing store since he was 14. He convinced his mother to let him use the basement as a “bargain basement” type of store. It did well. After getting married and working hard at a factory, Leon had saved $6,000 to start his own “Family Dollar” store.
His first location was in Charlotte, NC. The company quickly expanded to South Carolina (1961), Georgia (1962) and Virginia (1965). The company expanded rapidly in the 60’s and had over 50 stores by 1969.
The company went public in 1970 and continued to expand rapidly. The company opened their 100th store in 1971 and had 300 stores by 1978. In 1981, the company had 400 stores and by the end of that decade, 1,500 stores.
Leon Levine retired in 2003 and was succeeded as CEO by his son, Howard Levine.
Howard Levine stepped down as CEO in January of 2016 after Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar in late 2015. Family Dollar is now a subsidiary of Dollar Tree.
The chain currently has over 8000 stores in 44 states and opens 300-500 new stores each year.
The Family Dollar corporate office is located just outside Charlotte in Matthews, North Carolina.