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Jennifer Marks

Step right up and act now!

Who wants to be a dollar store millionaire?

As we've been swamped recently with reports of low comp increases, faltering earnings per share and difficult second-half forecasts, you'd think that retailer would be just about the last business anybody would leap into as a seat-of-the-pants entrepreneurial venture.

But, as Cinderella's fairy godmother pointed out, the world is full of daft and dewey-eyed dopes who keep building up impossible hopes. Or so it seemed last week when the following piece of SPAM popped up in the e-mail queue:

"Start you own dollar store today!!! For less than a cup of coffee!!!"

Less than a cup of coffee? Good heavens, I had no idea the barriers to entry were so low.

"There is a FORTUNE to be made on the Internet, and there is no better time than RIGHT NOW to get started."

This will certainly come as news to Wall Street and the investment community.

"Prior to the launch of EDOLLARSHOP.COM, it would have cost you tens of thousands of dollars to start your own dollar store!"

Somehow, I think it would still cost at least that much to launch my own dollar store. How is it that I will be able to avoid these costs?

"YOU CARRY NO INVENTORY — we warehouse and ship everything for you."

Ah, so you're a supplier! Just kidding. No inventory, that sounds great. But I will have to hire an operations team…

"There is no need for you to hire employees — your online store remains open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no employees to worry about!"

I've died and gone to retailer heaven. No inventory. No employees. Low start-up costs. What are those start-up costs, anyway?

"During the limited time introductory period, all franchise and hosting fees have been waived, SAVING YOU HUNDREDS! All you pay is a small $24.97 setup fee."

Hmmm, $24.97? I know it sounds like quibbling, but that's an awfully expensive cup of coffee, no?

"WE GUARANTEE YOURSUCCESS!"

Definitely retailer heaven. Not even Wal-Mart can guarantee success — just ask Sam's Club. But I have no retail experience — not that such a problem has stopped several investment types from buying up majority stakes in retailing lately.

"There is NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED for you to own a store. We will teach you everything you need to know!"

Did you send this pitch to Ed Lampert?

"There is no programming required; we will build your dollar store for you! Just follow the simple steps outlined in the included Marketing Guide to get shoppers to your store and CASH YOUR COMMISSION CHECKS."

It can't be that easy.

"It's that easy!"

But wait. As a newly minted retailer, how long until I can start hitting folks up on charge-backs, co-op ad dollars and all that other fun stuff that will catapult me into retailing's top tier? Hello? Hello?

"If you would like to unsubscribe, please click on the link below."

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