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One Buck at a Time

 Macon Brock with Earl Swift

Beachnut Publishing
$24.95 hardcover
6 x 9  
224 pages
20 black-and-white photos
February 2017

For over thirty years, Dollar Tree has succeeded at something the retail industry thought impossible: selling goods of surprising quality for no more than a dollar apiece, and in the process earning profits that defy common sense.

In One Buck at a Time, company cofounder Macon Brock leads readers through the twisty path that saw Dollar Tree mushroom from a humble five-and-dime in Norfolk, Virginia, into one of the fastest-growing businesses in America—one that today operates more than 14,000 stores, provides jobs for 165,000 people, and is climbing the Fortune 500.

During every step of its growth, Dollar Tree has had to re-prove its concept to people who can’t believe its success. Not long after entering the marketplace, the company faced a crisis of conscience. In view of inflation and pressure from suppliers, how long could it stick to its one-dollar price point? Would it have to abandon its founding principle and become just another Walmart competitor?

Brock devised an experiment—he acquired a mixed bag of items Dollar Tree could sell for one dollar, for two dollars, for three and five, dumped them on a desk, and asked company officials to separate them into price piles.

They couldn’t do it. Even Brock was surprised.

One Buck at a Time is an informal history of budget retail and a how-to on doing it right. Brock credits everyone from executives to store managers and associates for their devotion to a corporate culture of value and service. And yes, he paints an entertaining picture of how Dollar Tree fulfills its mission—how it scours the globe to maintain the all-important price point while fashioning a product mix that never fails to surprise and delight.


“Macon Brock is a transformational figure in American retail. In One Buck at a Time, he traces his fascinating journey from managing a lowly five-and-dime to creating, with the help of partners and a team of dedicated workers, the high-flying international phenomenon Dollar Tree. Equal parts memoir and management handbook, One Buck at a Time testifies that every successful business has to look out for both its employees and customers, and that nobody gets ahead for long without compassion. It’s a fantastic read.”

Senator Mark Warner

“Part memoir, part retail history, and part growth enterprise game plan, One Buck at a Time chronicles the roots, founders, and development of a true American success story, Dollar Tree. In a candid and entertaining narrative, Macon Brock describes the profound impact of principled, team-oriented leadership, a mission-driven culture, and a distinctive strategy within a highly competitive industry. In doing so, the book also captures Dollar Tree’s extraordinary transition from an entrepreneurial, family business to a multi-billion-dollar, professionally managed corporation with enormous potential for future expansion.”

Carl Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia

“Ably recounting a Virginia family’s early success and failures in the treacherous five-and-dime and toy businesses, One Buck at a Time goes on to explain how it then turned the ‘dollar store’ model into one of the fastest-growing and most profitable formats in retailing. The key ingredients: steely focus on continuous improvement and unyielding commitment to treating customers, suppliers, and employees with fairness, honesty, and respect. In addition to making an important contribution to business literature, Macon Brock’s story is a fun one to read.”

Alan Wurtzel, author of Good to Great to Gone and former CEO of Circuit City