Kroger, Walgreens and Dollar General are located about three-tenths of a mile north of the shuttered store on Wayne Avenue.
But Dollar Tree provides convenient and low-cost goods and groceries to people who live in the Walnut Hills neighborhood, said Mike Schommer, president of the Walnut Hills Neighborhood Association.
Some people prefer Dollar Tree, for its location, prices, products or employees.
“It’s got that feeling of the neighborhood grocery,” Schommer said.
On Christmas Eve, the Dollar Tree on the 1900 block of Wayne Ave. was set ablaze, allegedly by at least three boys ages 10 to 11.
Customers reported seeing flames inside the store, which spread quickly and reached the upper shelves of the aisles.
The store was evacuated, and the fire caused more than $250,000 in damage to the buildings and its contents.
The juveniles were arrested on Christmas day and placed on electronic home monitoring. They face aggravated arson charges.
Today, plywood covers the Dollar Tree’s entrance doors, and there is broken glass and debris littered in the parking lot.
Burn marks remain on the main sign. The site smells of smoke.
But a handful of notes are taped to the glass entrance, expressing support for the store and wishes for it to soon reopen.
Some notes are on cardboard. One is on notebook paper. Another was printed from a computer. Several people said Dollar Tree is their favorite store.
Hoeflich said he visited the Dollar Tree on Tuesday to pick up some cleaning supplies. He said he was dismayed to find it closed but drove to another store in Kettering to get what he needed.
Unfortunately, he said, some residents do not have their own cars or money to catch a ride to another location.
He said Dollar Tree is the least expensive place in the neighborhood to buy food and other goods. Unlike some other “dollar” chain stores, he said, everything at Dollar Tree is $1 or less, which allows customers to pack their grocery carts and still check out with fairly modest bills.
“It’s super handy when you need some stuff and you are not being particular or you cannot afford to be particular,” he said.
Wayne Avenue is the business corridor for Walnut Hills, which is home to about 2,500 houses, most of which are owner-occupied, Schommer said.