The Dollar Store Can Cost You More: What Not to Buy at the Dollar Store
Family Dollar or Dollar Tree: Are They the Same?
The "Big Daddy" of the the dollar discount stores chain is Dollar Tree, Inc. Only the Dollar Tree is a true dollar store. While Family Dollar Store boasts many items priced at $1 or less, it also has many more priced higher than $1 and even higher than $5.
All Dollar Stores are not equal. In fact, the dollar store can cost you more. You may have already found this out. The area I shop in boasts a large variety of dollar stores just waiting for your dollars. However, out of all of these stores available to the shopper—only one lives up to its name and that is the Dollar Tree.
Every single item is exactly one dollar including top brand named foods. The ambience is relaxing, spotless and friendly, while clerks bag your treasures with a smile.
If you aren't lucky enough to find a store like this, you'd best be careful and watch the prices and quality of the products. Since I've had plenty of experience buying the wrong stuff at so-called dollar stores, I thought I'd help you out by doing some careful research. Hopefully you'll learn from my mistakes.
Good Buys at the Dollar Store: What to Buy
- Cleaning Supplies - Although some cleaners are slightly diluted, you'll like the price. Most Dollar Stores now carry name brands at 60-70% lower than supermarket prices.
- Bath and Beauty items - Toothbrushes and floss (1$), Ivory bar soap(33 cents a bar), cotton balls (1$), lipstick (1$), Pregnancy Tests (1$), Shampoo (1$). Most bath and beauty items will save you some money, and many have the same ingredients as the more expensive brands.
- Party and gift supplies - You'll love the savings on these items, which include cutlery paper plates and cups. And don't forget the inflated party balloons (1$ including the helium).
- Seasonal and holiday items are a steal but you want to shop early as these favorites go very fast - especially Christmas, Valentines and Easter.
- Containers for storage and baskets in a variety of sizes are 70% less than other stores.
- I buy all my stickers for my young piano students at the Dollar Store as well as a good assortment of candles.
- Snacks for lunches and such are name brands and can be anywhere from 35-50% cheaper than the super markets, especially the bags of candies. And this is the place to pick up goodies for a trip to your local movie theater. Talk about your savings (an arm and a leg, sometimes both legs at the theater.)
- Cooking accessories like spatulas, ice cream scoops, flatware and wine glasses will give your wallet a smile too, including dinner plates, serving bowls and such.
- I find all of my artificial flowers and trimmings at the Dollar Store, along with seeds for my vegetable garden in the spring and summer.
- If you're tired of paying 4-5 dollars per greeting card, then you'll love the 1 dollar cards.
This list will give you a general idea of what to look for when you visit the Dollar Store.
But buyer beware. Not everything in the store is only 1 dollar as the name would indicate—some items are not even a good bargain.
Ripped Off at the Dollar Store
I am always up for saving a buck. It somehow gives me a feeling of superiority. I’ve done my time in the dollar store and its associate knock-offs, and learned through my own mistakes that not everything on the shelves is a bargain.
Just this week I made my shopping rounds and the dollar store was my first stop. One of the bargains I purchased was a regular size can of butter beans for only 1 dollar. My second and final stop was at my regular food chain. To my utter dismay, I found the same can of butter beans for 69 cents.
It was time for me to get smart and do some quick research. I wanted to know if a trip to the dollar store was really a savings for me.
This is what I learned after doing my own research.
A Plan in Action
Now my plan was going to cost me some time and I realized that it would, going in. However, in the long run, it would prove to be cost-effective. Please take note—I am not cheap, but I'm frugal. And I get a "rush" when I come across a good bargain.
I researched prices and the size of items and food at a couple of the local discount stores. These stores include Walmart, Target, and the Dollar Store. I also included the local Kroeger Market. I kept a record of everything. It wasn't long before I found out which Dollar Store products were savings and which ones were not.
Things Not to Buy at The Dollar Store
- Toys - they are cheaply made and can contain lead.
- Aspirin, Tylenol and other medications
- Canned food
- School Supplies
- Dog Food
- Toothpaste (fake Colgate)
- Beauty Creams
Not all dollar stores are the same, and prices can vary depending on the area. The biggest chains other than the dollar store are Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General and 99 Cents Only.
Recapping What We've Learned
Now you know which items may be best to buy at dollar store chains. You've also learned which products to avoid. Whether you're on a budget or you just like a good bargain, you will definitely save by shopping for the right items. The fun part is that you just never know what you will find. New products arrive every single day.
Just remember, the dollar store can cost you more. Print out the lists above and take them along with you when you shop. Also, be aware of impulse buying on products with a higher price point.
You'll find more dollar stores in areas where residents are considered low income. Dollar Tree also owns Family Dollar and has over 15,000 locations. This corporation took in $22.82 billion bucks last year and it's biggest competitor, Dollar General, has almost 16,000 locations and made more than $27.08 billion.
Cheap costume jewelry — like the stuff found at dollar stores — has tested for high levels of lead, nickel and even asbestos in some dollar stores. Toxins can leach into the skin and cause long-term organ damage, particularly in children.
Recalls of costume jewelry from some dollar stores are quite common, since the lead levels found in cheap trinkets often surpass the amounts allowed under U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.
Do You Shop At The Dollar Store?
© 2011 Audrey Hunt