I'm Rachelle, a.k.a "TheMotleyChick," a lover of eclectic but ordinary people, situations, and topics who loves sharing helpful resources.
Why Shop at a Dollar Store?
Creating and sticking to a family budget is always a good idea; it just makes good sense to save money.
For the last two decades, there has been an emergence of stores where you can purchase items for one dollar. Stores like Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only have the market cornered, but others offer a decent range of products. Family Dollar, Dollar General, and even Walmart (Dollar Station) and Target (Dollar Spot) have small sections where some items are one dollar.
Granted, there is a lot of flea market-style junk in dollar stores, but there are also tons of legitimate items, many name-brand, that you would pay maybe three times as much for at other stores. Let's take a look at 20 items you should always buy at a dollar store near you.
1. Gifting Supplies (Greeting Cards, Wrapping Paper, Gift Bags, Gift Boxes, Ribbons, etc.)
Dollar stores actually have nice-looking gift bags, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, and no one cares about gift box aesthetics; as long as the box holds the item(s), the job is done.
When it comes to greeting cards, you can still go to Hallmark for special people on special occasions when you want to make the perfect statement—but for 95% of your greeting card occasions, dollar stores offer great options.
2. Reading Glasses
You don't need reading glasses to see the options at the dollar stores work. They may not be the highest in fashion, but most of us aren't fashionistas anyway.
3. Holiday Decor
From New Year's Day flags, 4th of July flags, and Valentine's Day cards, candies, and stuffed animals to Thanksgiving and Christmas Wreaths...dollar stores have got you covered. And, let us never forget about the tons of scary Halloween options available.
In the video below, Linda from LG Queen Home Decor mentions making sure to shop early for holiday decor. Please always keep this tip in mind when shopping for holiday decor at dollar stores; the best options run out quickly.
4. Plasticware and Paperware
The dollar stores are the very best places to go to get basic, everyday paper and plastic plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins. There is also a huge supply of holiday and special-occasion-themed options as well.
5. Teeth Whitening Pens
Dollar stores sell different varieties of teeth whitening pens for one dollar at different times, but the two most popular brands at the time this article was published are the Reach Essentials Pen and the Pro Dazzling White Pen.
These pens may not offer the whitening power of Crest Whitestrips, but they do a pretty good job for one dollar—check out the Reach Essentials Teeth Whitening Pen Review video below.
6. Cups, Plates, Forks, Spoons and Butter Knives (Cutlery) (Dollar Tree)
When it comes to cups and plates, the Dollar Tree brand stores offer a decent selection. I wouldn't call the options "fine dining," but most of us are simply looking to find something adequate enough to hold food without looking too shabby.
As for forks, spoons, and butter knives, just about every dollar store has decent enough options to fill in your drawer. They will not be the highest quality when it comes to style and heft, but they work.
The one caveat to this one is that I wouldn't recommend purchasing actual kitchen knives from any type of dollar store; knives need to be sharp and hefty to get the job done. Also, you can hurt yourself if you're trying to cut something using a dull knife. The point is, you need to spend a decent amount of money on knives and kitchen shears.
Just as with holiday decor, the best-looking options will disappear the fastest, so when you see something cute, make sure to snatch it up right away.
7. Bags of Hard Candy
When you need to answer the call of the sugar cravings, why not do it with one small piece of candy instead of going overboard with something with more sugar and more calories?
Dollar stores usually offer a wide selection of bags of hard candy, from everyday basics like peppermint balls, butterscotch disks, Jolly Ranchers, and much more.
8. Bags of Soft Candy
Same as with the hard candies, dollar stores usually have a large selection of soft candy, from Mike and Ike, Haribo Gummy Bears, Laffy Taffy, Red Bird Soft Peppermint, and Air Heads to off-brand fruit slices, caramels, jelly beans, and gumdrops.
9. Bags of Sugar-Free Candy
Perhaps you are trying to cut down on sugar, or maybe you are a diabetic, but you still want to "get your sweet on" sometimes.
Dollar stores have everything you need when it comes to sugar-free candy, from hard candy to soft candy, and even name brands like Werther's Original sugar-free caramels, both hard and soft.
10. Bags of Chocolate Candy
Whether it's Valentine's Day or any normal day, any dollar store should be your first stop if you need chocolate to brighten up your day.
There are the traditional chocolate boxes for the aforementioned holiday, and then there are the everyday chocolates, such as Snickers, Twix, Hershey's, Kit-Kat, etc. These stores usually offer bags of miniature versions of your favorite chocolate candy.
You can usually pick up a multi-pack of chewing gum and bubble gum from dollar stores for the same price that you would pay for a single pack of gum at Walmart, Target, convenience, and grocery stores.
From Trident, Doublemint, and Juicy Fruit, to Dubble Bubble, Hubba Bubba, and Bubble Yum—dollar stores are always the place to go to buy these items.
12. Drinking Glasses & Stemware (Dollar Tree)
Dollar stores are the perfect place to get drinking glasses, especially if you're into the cool ones like Coca-Cola glasses.
When it comes to stemware, they offer a huge section of cool colors and styles...it may not be Swarovski Crystalline wine glasses, but no one wants those anyway (Just kidding—I do.)
13. Double-A and Triple-A Batteries (AA and AAA Batteries)
Save the pricey Energizers and Duracells for your fire alarms and opt for the dollar store batteries for just about everything else. From kids' toys to kids' electric toothbrushes, for anything that doesn't reach the level of "life-saving" equipment, get your batteries from the dollar stores.
For whatever reason, it seems that AA and AAA batteries are abundant, but it is harder to find other battery types in dollar stores.
14. DG Home $1 Paper Items (Dollar General)
If you happen to find yourself specifically in a Dollar General brand store, make sure to stock up on their DG Home brand paper items, the are one dollar each, and they range from a three-pack of paper towels to a six-pack of toilet tissue.
Other items in the $1 line of DG Home brand include Red Solo knock-offs, assorted cutlery, and paper plates (foam).
*I realize I mentioned paper items above, but I wanted to be sure to point out this line from Dollar General because they have lots of options that are more than $1.
15. Crayons and Coloring Books
Please don't ever buy crayons and coloring books for kids anywhere else but a dollar store. Dollar Tree offers a wide selection, and 99 Cents Only stores usually offer gargantuan-sized coloring books. You might also find adult coloring books as well.
16. Car Phone Holders, Phone Stands, and Phone Cases
When you need a place to pop your phone in while you're driving, prop your phone or tablet up for better viewing angles or better Facetime, Skype, or Zoom experiences, dollar stores usually have a decent enough selection.
17. Basic First Aid Items
Items like Band-Aid, pain relievers, analgesics, witch hazel, Ace bandages, peroxide, antibiotic ointment, etc., are aplenty at most dollar stores; you can never have enough of these items.
18. Baby and Toddler Items
Bottles, bibs, bottle cleaners (manual/bristle), sippy cups, plastic toddler forks, knives and spoons, outlet plugs, pacifiers, etc.; dollar stores offer plenty of baby items check out the video below for vivid baby items found at the Dollar Tree.
BONUS: In the video below, Sarah from Sensational Finds offers a view of some of the best and worst things to buy for babies—so be sure to check it out!
19. Basic Household Cleansers
From Comet and Windex to Fabuloso, Lysol Cleansing Wipes, latex gloves, and dishwashing liquid—there's no better place for these items than dollar stores.
20. Beauty Basics: Make-up, Hair Accessories, Nail Care
Dollar stores usually have a good selection of beauty items, but Dollar Tree is often stocked full of makeup, hair accessories, nail polish, and nail care kits.
They offer hair accessories like barrettes, hair bows, rubber bands, beads, brushes and combs, handy nail care kits, and a decent selection of nail polish colors—and, of course, top coat and clear.
Now, to be fair, you won't find MAC cosmetics items, but for basics like eyeliner and mascara, lash curlers, and eye shadow, you'll be able to maintain your "look" just fine. Watch Goddess Mikel do a hot face beat with only Dollar Tree Items in the video below.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 03, 2020:
I was just going to the dollar store and your tips are useful.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 03, 2020:
I was interested to see how many items I ticked from your list in UK pound shops. These stores certainly have a place in budgeting.
Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on August 02, 2020:
Hi Liza! I'm glad you got something out of this article, it was my goal to get people to give dollar stores a chance, and it seems like I hit the target as far as you are concerned. Thank you so much for your support and happy shopping!
Liza from USA on August 02, 2020:
Hi Rachelle, after reading your article on things that we should buy at Dollar Store, I feel like I needed to shop there often. I went to Dollar Store a few times, however, I didn't spend very long there. I realize there are items such as holiday decors and household cleaners that I should buy from the store. I can save a lot of money. Thank you for sharing, Rachelle.