Dollar Store Shopping

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My friend Sandra is the diva of dollar stores. The stuff this woman finds is amazing; gorgeous woven baskets, underwear, greeting cards, you name it. She shares some of her thoughts on dollar stores with us:

Looking for gift bags, wrapping paper, pens, shampoo, make-up, lotion, pencils, or small ceramic items?  Your local dollar store is the place for you.  I have used the dollar store to decorate my home, with flowers, vases and candles.  I have used picture frames and photo albums to store my precious memories over the years.  While living in New York City, I often shopped at Jack’s 99 Cent Stores for groceries, medicine, flatware, and dishes.

In 1955, the first company to advertise various items for no more than one dollar was established.  Now dollar stores are franchised (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, etc.) and you can do dollar shopping on the internet.  Dollar stores provide low-budget alternatives to the often over priced department and grocery store goods I’ve found that many of the items in a dollar store are as good as grocery stores and pharmacies. However, in the case of some dollar store items, what you get is what you pay for, so while your new hands-free cell phone cord may work just fine, your new ceramic figurine may be broken before you even get to the car.

Sure, the dollar store is a gimmick, and sometimes in your fervor to get 20 one dollar umbrellas for your car, purse, locker, desk, husband, and daughter, you may end up paying more for a item than you would at your local drug store. To avoid this trap, only shop for items at the dollar store you know are more expensive at other stores—like greeting cards, dishwashing soap, kitchen utensils, etc.

TBF Note: I refuse to purchase greetings cards from anywhere but a dollar store. $5.00 for a piece of paper that will be thrown in the trash within a week? I think not. It’s also the best place to purchase kitchen utensils.

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  • Rachel

    As a college student, Dollor stores make a great place to gain ideas for gift baskets.  Not all of the items are bought from dollor stores (because the item is not worth a dollor) but ideas can be formed by browsing the isles.  One tip is to take the items out of the poorly packaged wrappers and wrap them yourself.  It makes the gift look more “homemade.”

  • Ally

    Didn’t know about the toothpaste.  I just looked at mine – made overseas.  Had no idea… hmmm… Think I’ll need to toss it.

  • i shop at dollar stores as well, but do be careful of certain food and hygienic items.

  • Anne

    I have to agree with Emily.  Read the labels and check the expiration dates on all soaps, detergents, cosmetics, food and such if you’re going to take a chance on buying them.  Personally, I stick with buying gift bags/wrapping supplies, stickers, cards, and things for favor bags for my daughter’s birthday parties.  I have made 30 favor bags for about $8, which is amazing when you realize that some children’s party venues charge $5.95 per favor bag!

  • Aww, but the expensive greetings cards are so much nicer than dollar-store ones. I’d say if you’re sending out generic christmas cards, buy them in a big pack at a department store, or buy them at the dollar store. However, I have found that some of the cards at the dollar store have major typos and their greeting messages don’t make sense.

    My favourite thing to buy at dollar stores is hair elastics. Often, they are the exact same elastic as the more expensive drugstore brands, just packaged differently. Chocolate, pop, and candy is also cheaper there, not to mention wrapping paper, ribbon, stickers, and gift bags.

    I would have to disagree on makeup, underwear, and detergents (i.e soap, dish soap). They are cheap because they are horrible quality (or leftover, old merchandise from other stores).

    Just my two cents! 🙂

  • Sharon

    I used to be A Dollar Store Snob! However as a young woman on a budget with a fledgling music business and a day job I have learned to appreciate the value and savings offered by a dollar store. I buy my candles, cleaning supplie and other household and personal maintenance items at my local dollar store rather than spend $2-$3 more at the supermarket or department stores.

    I have transformed into a Dollar Store Devotee!