MADISON — The town has joined a growing list of municipalities across the country that offer Family Dollar stores.

Construction has begun on an 8,000-square-foot, downtown Family Dollar store that will sell a mix of household items, seasonal products, food and apparel, with an opening scheduled for summer.

The center steel beam of the structure went up at 20 Old Point Ave., in a space that once held an appliance store and attached house, on Monday.

Scott Labbe used to live in the house and run Scott’s Appliance. He now lives next door to the cleared property. On Monday he watched the construction progress. He said he’s glad the space is being used.

“It’s definitely going to put some people to work,” he said.

Public Relations Manager Josh Braverman, at Family Dollar Stores Inc. headquarters in Matthews, N.C., said the company doesn’t release the cost of building new stores. Its website, however, says a typical store built from the ground up can cost roughly $800,000.

A Family Dollar store usually employs eight to 10 people, Braverman said.

Family Dollar’s website says the company is one of the fastest-growing discount retail chains in the United States. It has about 7,100 stores in 45 states, and between Feb. 2 and 16 it is scheduled to open 20 new stores.

In 2012, it estimates, it will open about 450 to 500 new stores and close 80 to 100.

Family Dollar opens stores in areas that serve low- to middle-income customers, according to the company. It aims to have a minimum of 8,000 people in the store’s trade area, which typically encompasses a 10-mile radius in rural towns.

The core customer is a female head of household in her mid-40s making less than $40,000 per year, the site states.

“Any legitimate new business in our county is a good thing,” said Jim Batey, executive director of the Somerset Economic Development Corporation. “Any growth in retail is helpful.”

The publicly held company’s net sales for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, which ended Nov. 26, increased 7.6 percent to $2.12 billion, compared to the same quarter in 2011. Net income for the quarter increased 8.1 percent to $80.4 million.

Joy Hikel, Madison’s economic development director, said she’s happy the downtown site is being improved and that the town’s tax base is being expanded.

“Any local job right now for people is good,” she said.

Brewer Holdings LLC, based in Hermon, owns the property and rents it to Family Dollar, said David St. Germain, with Brewer Holdings. In total, the project includes 20,000 square feet of development on 2.75 acres, according to filings with the town Planning Board.

Project Manager Tom Harling said the structure’s exterior will be built by a crew of four to six people in the next several weeks. Then they’ll begin the interior work.

Braverman said the company is aiming for a late summer opening.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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