Above: J.L. Turner
In 1902, James Luther (J.L.) Turner was an eleven-year-old living on his family’s farm in Kentucky. When his father had a fatal accident, J.L. quit school so he could work full time on the farm to support his mother and siblings and became a quick study of the world around him. In fact, he always assumed that everyone he met was smarter than he was and that he could learn something from everyone. Yet, he never completed his formal education.
During the Depression, J.L. began buying and liquidating bankrupt general stores and his only child, Cal Turner Sr., accompanied his father to these closeouts at a young age, gaining valuable business knowledge and skills. By October 1939, J.L. and Cal opened J.L. Turner and Son Wholesale and the first Dollar General store in Springfield, Ky. on June 1, 1955. By 1957, annual sales of Dollar General’s 29 stores were $5 million.
J.L.’s grandson, Cal Turner, Jr., succeeded his father as Dollar General’s CEO, a role he held until retirement in 2002. Under Cal Jr.’s leadership, the company grew to more than 6,000 stores and $6 billion in sales, but one decision has certainly made a very lasting impact.
In 1993, to recognize and honor his grandfather, as well as help others throughout the communities Dollar General serves improve their lives through literacy and education, Cal Turner, Jr. founded the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
For nearly a quarter-century, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $127 million to nonprofits, libraries and schools by supporting youth, summer, adult and family literacy programs, helping nearly eight million people advance their lives. Customers may donate to support the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s initiatives at the cash register of every Dollar General store.