Are Dollar Stores Really That Cheap?

Kim McGrigg at Blogging for Change took a look at the dollar stores in her neighborhood and found that it can take some work to make sure you’re actually saving money. In fact, on a couple of items she actually paid a fraction more than what she would have at a superstore like Walmart. This matches what Consumer Reports’ shopping mag, ShopSmart, discovered in their recent “Dollar Mania” report (free PDF download).

“Do you get a deal at the dollar stores?” [Blogging for Change]

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  1. outlulz says:

    I remember a magical day where the 99 Cent Store had 1 pound packages of Oscar Meyer bacon. That was a good day and we had bacon for weeks.

    • fonetek says:

      @outlulz: ewwww $1.00 store bacon. Would you like a side of e coli with that? I refuse to even eat candy bars out of a place like that.

      • CaptZ says:

        @fonetek: Not too mention most bacon is cured and can be eaten right out of the package. It takes more than you think to get e coli from bacon. If the e coli is there…it came from the farm or the slaughterhouse that way.

        Do you really think out over protective govt would allow dollar stores to sell non edible food?

    • ratnerstar says:

      @outlulz: Impossible. Bacon is both a pork product and a breakfast item, and therefore cannot lead to a good day. Next you’ll be telling me there was barking from the dogs, too.

    • floraposte says:

      @outlulz: That’s, like, a treyf Hanukkah miracle!

    • col1999 says:

      @outlulz: I’ve heard tales of the Great 99cent OM Bacon… I’ve never believed them before now. You have given me hope again.

  2. OggJoshua says:

    With some products, it’s true that you only get as good you pay for. Cheap stuff can end up being not so cheap.

  3. deadandy says:

    The comparisons in that PDF are among the worst research I’ve ever seen. They are muddying the waters further for consumers by making apples-to-apples comparisons on things that are not the same at all.

    For example, the aluminum foil you get at the dollar store is the absolute worst quality. It tears easily, and doesn’t compare at all to Reynold’s or even grocery store brand foil. Same with gift wrap.

    Very misleading and borderline useless.

    • acknight says:

      @deadandy: Heavily depends on the dollar store that you go to.

    • twerp says:

      @deadandy:

      I’ve gotten name brand foil at our dollar stores. In general, I’ve found that they aren’t necessarily cheaper than other stores. I tend to go for the uni-taskers: items that either I am using one time only or ones that if I lose it/forget it/break it…I won’t care.

      they are great for room-moms for class prizes: pens/pencils, books etc. Michael’s is awesome for that too-lots of crafty stuff in the $1/$2 area

      • Samby says:

        @twerp: art supplies!!!
        With six kids in the house- we save a fortune on art supplies!
        scrapbooking supplies are also a ton cheaper at the dollar stores.
        Hair supplies- my daughter’s have so much and constantly get compliments- great stuff!

    • catnapped says:

      @deadandy: And they’re making comparisons to CVS?!? The place that kindly asks you to leave your wallet with the cashier as you walk in the door?

  4. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    I think a dollar store whose price are in line or “a fraction more” (depends on what the fraction is) than Walmart would be pretty good. There’s a convenience to shopping in those smaller stores that’s worth a few cents on the dollar.

    • socialSTD says:

      @GreatCaesarsGhost:

      Agreed…

      If i’m buying an item that’s $1 at the dollar store but is only $0.88 at Walmart I’m more likely to buy it at the dollar store.

      The nearest Walmart is a 15 min drive and usually only has a few checkout lanes open (which leads to really long lines).

      My nearest Dollar store is a 5 min. drive and isn’t usually very busy.

      It’s all about convenience.

  5. DerangedRoleModel says:

    Your hole-in-the-wall dollar stores are usually pretty terrible, but places like Family Dollar or Big Lots aren’t that bad.

  6. JGKojak says:

    Dollar stores are a giant rip-off.

    They are, from what I can tell, collections of useless junk set out to give people who feel like shopping but have little money something to buy.

    • GMFish says:

      @JGKojak: “useless junk set out to give people who feel like shopping but have little money something to buy

      Brilliant observation. Perfectly brilliant!

    • WorldHarmony says:

      @JGKojak: Methinks you haven’t read the comments from people describing how useful some of these dollar store items are.

  7. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i will absolutely go to the dollar store for ponytail holders, cheap hand lotion, crayons, ashtrays, the cheap mesh laundry bags i store out of season clothing in on the top shelf of my closet and sets of plastic dishes and silverware that i can take camping and reuse until someone accidentally throws it away or it lands in the fire.
    but for anything else, i have found that most other places have better prices and better quality.

    • pop top says:

      @catastrophegirl – minus one kitten: I always get my gift wrap/ribbons/bows/gift bags there. Everything but the gift bag will just be torn up and unused, so why spend $4/roll if I don’t have to. At least you can get more use out of the bag.

      • theblackdog says:

        @squinko: I got burned once by dollar store wrapping paper because it was so thin that you could read the boxes I was wrapping up unless you double-wrapped it.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @squinko: ah, yeah, i kind of just suck at wrapping gifts. usually i just write the person’s name on some origami animal and tape it to the gift. i don’t do surprises really well

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @squinko: I buy that stuff at the flea market. I grab it when I see it, so I have it. You can get name brand stuff that people buy to resell if you look, and it’s usually pretty cheap.

        Christmas decorations, too, are usually easy to find. If someone’s getting rid of their old stuff for new stuff, you can score some nice decorations.

  8. SkokieGuy says:

    I occasionally see things at the Dollar Tree that I can buy cheaper elsewhere. But when the bar is set at a dollar, ‘cheaper’ may mean $0.79 or so, not a huge savings.

    But the things I do buy are often $2, $3, or more elsewhere, so I don’t mind overpaying by less than a quarter on a tiny percentage of my purchases. It’s worth it for the convenience and to support a business that works on tiny margins.

    For the same reason, I often go to my local Ace Hardware or Crafty Beaver Home Center , two local independents that aren’t always as cheap as the big box guys, but actually offer service, selection and employ really knowledgeable people who are happy to provide advice and help.

    • pop top says:

      @SkokieGuy: Wait. You mean that you don’t get excellent service at places that treat their workers like crap, pay them horrible wages and hire people with fifth grade educations? Insanity.

      • Powerlurker says:

        @squinko:

        Hey, people with fifth grade educations need to earn a living too.

      • Powerlurker says:

        @jamiesue:

        The local 99 Cent Only stores, before they shut down most of their Texas locations, used to have some great deals on frozen dinners and such with Stouffers stuff for a dollar a piece as long as you weren’t too picky about what you got. They also tend to be great places to get obscure candies and other food products that never made it out of test markets.

    • GreatCaesarsGhost says:

      @SkokieGuy:
      For years I stayed away from dollar stores because of all the crap the sell. Then I wandered into a Dollar Tree and have been a devotee ever since. Great deals on name brands, plus a good place to make that quick stop for one thing.

  9. pixiegirl1 says:

    One of the best things to get at the dollar store is cards it’s two for a dollar but if you only get one it’s 50 cents. Who needs a $5 card that is going to end up in the trash two days later? Same with gift bags & balloons.

  10. catskyfire says:

    I actually got dishes and bowls at my dollar store. They are both a little misshapen, but they serve their purpose. The dishes are for when friends are over, and we need something to put food on. Less wasteful than disposable, and if it gets broken, it was only a buck.

  11. Anonymously says:

    There are some good deals to be found at a dollar store. I particularly like Dollar Tree. My wife can buy a whole basket full of crap there and fulfill her psychological need to shop while spending less than $20.

    They have some good deals in their kitchenware section, including silicon spatulas for $1.

    • KMcGrigg says:

      @JohnQPublic:

      Hi there. I am the author of that post and I found your comment to be really interesting. I have also purchased things to fill a psychological need to shop. However, I usually buy something not-so-cheap and then end up returning it later. Yeah, retailers love that. Maybe another post topic for another day?

      • Anonymously says:

        @KMcGrigg: Of course, addressing the underlying cause of the need to shop would be better, but if she’s going to do it, I’d rather she do it in a way that won’t wreck our finances.

  12. Jamie Sue says:

    Dollar stores are great for toothbrushes, toilet brushes, greeting cards, balloons, and a bunch of other “disposable” items where quality isn’t an issue because of their super short life. Air fresherner and carpet refreshner powders tend to be cheap fo the same brands found in store (just more outdated packaging.) It just depneds on what it *is* as to if you’ll save money. I’ve even gone so far as to buy workout clothes at the Dollar General that held up good and were cheap.

  13. baquwards says:

    Cleaning supplies are usually a great deal at dollar stores. I have gotten some good plates and cups there, to have extra dinnerware when having a get together or something.

    Of course they won’t always be the best deal, but if you know how to shop and what to shop for there, you can do well.

    • Jamie Sue says:

      @baquwards: AH! I almost forgot cleaning supplies! I remember Kroger having Lysol spray disenfectent for around $2.50 and Walmart having it for around $2.00 and it was still $1.00 at the dollar store near me for the same size container. Lysol liquid cleaner, Mean Grean (which I think might be one of their brands), Oven cleaner, things like that are sometimes a real bargain there.

      • legwork says:

        @jamiesue: The name brands in stores I’ve visited were all ripoff lookalikes with some unknown substance inside. I tried one of their “Dow Scrubbing Bubbles” cans. Useless stuff, nothing like the real thing.

        • baquwards says:

          @legwork: Honestly if you clean often and on a regular schedule, you don’t need really strong cleaners. For me they work just fine, but if I got a buildup on anything I would probably need more potent stuff.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @jamiesue:
        I used to get laundry detergent (Arm and Hammer, which I use regularly) at Dollar General.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @baquwards: Yeah cleaning supplies are great there, you can get 64 oz of cleaner for $1. Great if you have empty spraybottles lying around or if you have to refill the ones you have. Its even cheaper to buy the 64 oz and refill the bottles you have then to buy the .99 bottles.

      Its foolish to spend more for cleaning supplies because they are used for cleaning. The dollar store ones work fine for me.

    • syndprod says:

      @baquwards: Dollar-type stores are great for cheap cleaning supplies – especially paper towels and Brillo – to use when moving out of an apartment. Who knows if you really used “real” Tilex, as long as it smells like you used Tilex?

  14. Lucky_Strike-001 says:

    My fiancee gets party decorations at our local dollar store. I mean you are going to throw away all those streamers and balloons anyway? Who cares if they are cheap. We bought all the decorations for her college graduation party there.

  15. legwork says:

    Ever wonder why dollar stores don’t sell cheap lead test kits?

    • Jfielder says:

      @legwork: Because the test kits themselves would contain lead?

      • Powerlurker says:

        @jfielder23:

        They do sell cheap home pregnancy tests though, for after you’ve bought their cheap condoms. Hopefully, they don’t cause birth defects or anything.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Powerlurker: i’ve seen those! i was scared. i always wondered who uses them and how reliable the results could be.
          if i were to be needing something like that [not likely] i wouldn’t be able to bring myself to trust one from the dollar store.
          it’s a kind of important thing and worth at least the $15 or so for the name brand ones

  16. wheresmymind says:

    I always head to the dollar store when I’m throwing a party. Just pick up some silly string, glow-sticks, some fluorescent plastic shot glasses, beaded necklaces, maybe some goofy hats, and you’re prepared for a fun night of debauchery. That said, I don’t rely on the dollar store to provide me with anything that I don’t want to see crushed on my floor the next day.

  17. fuzzymuffins says:

    gift bags are a great deal at dollar stores.

    at hallmark, or even wal-mart, they can run as high as $6-7.

    never understood the logic behind expensive gift wrap.

    at least the probability of re-gifting bags are higher.

  18. pb5000 says:

    a dollar store pregnancy test confirmed our number 3

    • shepd says:

      @pb5000:

      That’s something where shopping around can reveal even cheaper savings. You can get the tests for about $0.10 each in packs of ten…

    • Shoelace says:

      @pb5000: That’s a product I wouldn’t trust a dollar store for. Did you buy just one test or a few to confirm the result? If you bought more than one, were the results all the same?

      • pb5000 says:

        @Shoelace: that one was a surprise pregnancy, so we bought more than a few from actual pharmacies just to be sure.

        @shepd: where? I’ve never seen a ten pack for a buck?

        • shepd says:

          @pb5000:

          $1.77 for 10 at dealextreme (they get cheaper as you buy more). I was off by 7 cents I suppose. And yes, I know I mention that place too much. I love them. So much cool weird junk. It’s like an online dollar store itself. And yes, they work, me and my wife have proven it. :)

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            @shepd: since i have never had an order from deal extreme arrive in less than 6 weeks, i don’t think that would be very useful.
            maybe other people have better luck with shipping from them?

            • shepd says:

              @catastrophegirl – minus one kitten:

              No, they’re always slow, although on occasion I’ve had stuff within 3 weeks. Cheap pregnancy tests are the sort of thing you use when you’re, well, planning to have a baby. :) I wouldn’t want to use them to check for an “accident”.

              Unless you’re REALLY, REALLY lucky they should arrive on time. Especially if you have to wait a month after stopping “the pill”.

              • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

                @shepd: ah. thanks, i didn’t think of it that way. my plan involves not getting pregnant, ever.

      • Coles_Law says:

        @Shoelace: Why not? It’s just going to get urinated on and thrown out. Maybe pass on the dollar store insulin or the dollar store catheters, but a pregnancy test seems fine to me.

    • B* says:

      @pb5000:
      Oh yeah, dollar store tests are awesome! Seriously, especially if you’re trying and using a bunch, they’re a godsend. If you get a positive you can always get a more expensive test to be sure. Better to just make the doctor appointment though. Seriously, they’re probably one of the best deals in the world.

      As for the online tests, they weren’t as good in my experience. I got a couple that were kind of flaky. Either too sensitive or just too easy to read as a maybe. I prefer the dollar store ones by far. I think the brand is New Choice.

  19. radiochief says:

    True story. YMMV.

    My son got a cold with a nagging cough about two months. He really likes those Triaminic Pediatric Strips. So my wife goes to Walgreens and buys a box of 24 for $7.00.

    We run out of them. A dollar store that just recently opened up. I went to that store and bought 4 boxes of the same stuff for $4.00.

    The real kicker was: the expiry date on Triaminic from the dollar store was longer than the one from the pharmacy.

  20. lihtox says:

    For me, nothing is more expensive than the cost in integrity shopping at Walmart would entail. I don’t fault anyone else for shopping there, but if the Dollar Store is only a little more expensive than Walmart, for the same product, then the Dollar Store wins hands-down.

    • tbax929 says:

      @lihtox:

      I shop at Walmart often, and have never felt like it’s hurt my integrity.

    • WorldHarmony says:

      @lihtox: Well, you may want to check the integrity of the dollar store you patronize. It is no secret that dangerous products like malfunctioning batteries and lead-contaminated toothpastes and children’s items have been sold at dollar stores. Sometimes an item is sold at a dollar store because stores with integrity won’t sell them. Caveat emptor.

    • Blufyor says:

      @lihtox: What? If anything, the (chain) dollar stores I’ve been to are several rungs down from Wal-mart. And they all have the same weird, sickly sweet chemical smell.

  21. PsiCop says:

    As with most things in life, the efficacy of shopping in dollar stores lies in the details and depends on what, exactly, one buys there.

    We frequently buy cleaning supplies (soaps & detergents, softener, bleach, etc.) ’cause they’re much cheaper there than elsewhere, and they work. Greeting cards, gift wrap, we agree with the PDF, they’re also a good deal. We put together some fantastic Christmas arrangements as gifts, by buying “silk” flowers and putting them into holiday-themed coffee mugs, all from the dollar store. So those work out too, if you’re crafty.

    On the flip side, the food items are problematic at best. They’re either poor quality or have some other defect (such as being exceedingly high in sodium, or near or past expiration dates). The little toys they sell don’t even work as party favors, they’re just too flimsy. Tools are also ridiculously poor quality. As for things like foil and plastic wrap … they’re crap at dollar stores.

    We’ve found it’s best to shop in dollar stores with a cynical eye. A very cynical eye.

  22. kabuk1 says:

    Dollar General is actually more expensive than walmart on most items. VO5 shampoo is $1, $.96 at walmart. Not THAT big a deal, but my point is- they round UP the prices. Tide detergent for $4.50 at walmart is $5 at DG. It’s ridiculous. Dollar TREE, on the other hand, RULES. It’s an actual DOLLAR store, not a ‘multiples of $1.00′ store.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @kabuk1: I agree with you about DG. It has become pricey for a discount store. On the other hand, I can find almost nothing in local Walmarts that costs less than $1 anymore. The ones here in Phoenix seem to be more like Target in their selection and quality and prices.

      If you have access to the 99¢ Only Store chain, you can purchase a staggering array of goods for $1 or less. Mine even had fresh pasta a few weeks ago, and a variety of summer vegetables and berries of good quality. The only thing I find is not a great deal at dollar stores is canned goods, many of which are available for less than a buck elsewhere.

      • Powerlurker says:

        @ChuckECheese:

        99 Cents Only is a great place to shop for vegetables if you’re only cooking for one. They regularly have bagged salad for a dollar, small quantities of all sorts of staples for only a dollar each.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @kabuk1: Yeah I think DG is just the name of a store, it is NOT a dollar store. A dollar store is a store where every item is a dollar or less. DG just rounds prices as you mentioned, and often sells smaller sizes of product for more money than Walmart does.

      DG’s seem to be opening up all over but only in the poorest neighborhoods here. I think they prey on people who do not have transportation to get to a store that is cheaper, they hold the market wherever they open up so they can essentially charge a premium for the same thing as Walmart.

      I have found plenty of things that are a good deal at dollar stores or dollar tree, but I have found very few items that are a good deal at stores like DG, which just masquerade as a dollar store.

      • GreatCaesarsGhost says:

        @Outrun1986:
        As much as I hate DG, I disagree with the characterization of them preying on customers. Yes they charge more, but operating in the hood can increase costs (theft and vandalism to begin with).

        As to those who have no transportation to Walmart, what would they do without DG? I’d rather pay a premium at DG than have to find a ride to Walmart.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @Outrun1986: dollar general is the only place near me [aside from thrift stores] that sells ashtrays. i find it so weird.

    • catnapped says:

      @kabuk1: I’ve usually found quite the opposite…Walmart is often considerably more expensive than the dollar store for stuff like detergent and paper products.

  23. TheAlarmist says:

    No!! Dollar stores USED to be that everything was $1. Now they advertise as everything being “$1 or more.”

    My neighborhood dollar store sells knock-offs of knock-offs of already low quality laundry detergent for several dollars, not any cheaper than buying it at the deli or the grocery store. The dollar store is a myth.

  24. outshined says:

    I’ve read threads here where people are terrified of things from the 99 cent store. 99 Cents Only is hit or If they have Lean Cuisines or Healthy Choices, I won’t think twice about buying them. I’ve never had a problem. Organic tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries pop up in the summer. All good.

  25. Shoelace says:

    I’m finding that a lot of ‘dollar’ type stores in my area are now charging more than a dollar for many items. There may be one place left that still charges $1 for everything.

    Watch out for cashiers who invent prices for items. If an item doesn’t have a sticker in a place that no longer charges $1 for everything, ask. Last place I went to was so bad that the cashier tried to charge me $1.99 for 2 items that had stickers saying $1.49.

    Still shop at these places (not the last one though) for some non-food items such as toothbrushes, plastic dishes, and cheap hardware, but never expect much durability. Definitely quicker and easier than spending 20-30 minutes driving to Walmart.

  26. OneTrickPony says:

    We used to live pretty near a Dollar Tree and did a fair amount of shopping there for the kind of stuff that they tend to have. I actually have no idea how prices compare to Walmart, since I don’t shop there very often. I always seem to live a 45-minute round trip from the nearest Walmart, not even including the 5-minute-each-way hike in from the closest parking space or the time wasted dragging through the cavernous store or waiting in long checkout lines.

  27. jc364 says:

    I have often wondered how dollar stores cope with things like inflation. Do they have to sell more and more worthless junk to compensate?

    • catnapped says:

      @jc364: “Shrink ray” on things like food and cleaners (where the package can be a variable size, and not a single object), lower quantity where the package has a multiple in it (3 toothbrushes instead of 4, for example). Some products they just discontinue from the stores if they can’t procure them cheap enough to meet the $1 price point.

  28. TedSez says:

    This article says that not everything at a dollar store costs just a dollar — but that’s exactly the case at West Coast chain 99 Cents Only Stores. (Which used to charge up to 99 cents for everything, but raised the price to “99.99 cents” so they wouldn’t have to change their name.)

    That makes it easy to tell if something’s a bargain — if it would cost more than a buck elsewhere, it’s cheaper here. What’s more, they carry a lot of name brands as well as produce and refrigerated foods (and are good about checking for expiration dates). The selection changes frequently, but I’ve often found, for instance, the same Kraft cheese that costs $2.50-$4.50 in grocery stores for $1 here.

    But the best thing about these stores is that they literally drive down prices at the supermarkets, which have begun offering dollar sales on many more items than they used to.

    • edosan says:

      @TedSez: “That makes it easy to tell if something’s a bargain — if it would cost more than a buck elsewhere, it’s cheaper here.”

      How dare you summarize her big deal article in one sentence using common sense!

  29. mbz32190 says:

    If you are into energy drinks, and not brand-conscious the dollar store is a wonderful place. Ex. A can of Monster at a grocery store may be $2.00 or more. Dollar Tree sells “Joker” brand for of course, $1 a can, and doing some research, found out they are both made by the exact same company and I noticed no difference in taste.

  30. MissPeacock says:

    The Dollar Tree has the absolute BEST gift bags for a dollar. I get all of my wrapping paper there at Christmas as well. And it’s a good place to get cheap plastic silverware and plates for a party. I’ve also bought my cat some fun little toys there. You have to look, but they do have quality merchandise.

  31. philpem says:

    We’ve got a chain called “Poundland” here in the UK. Pretty much the same idea as Dollar Tree, but the price is £1 instead of $1.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen “child’s toy sold at Poundland” or “homeware product sold at Poundland” on the Trading Standards product recalls list… there’s usually one every other week.

    I think my grandmother still shops there (usually for batteries for the TV remote), but I stopped years ago… £1 for 12 AA batteries is a steal, unless nearly all of them are leaking and/or completely discharged.

    Even their sellotape and parcel tape are poor-quality. As in, almost no glue, and not even capable of being peeled off the roll without splitting…

    I’m actually surprised they’re still in business.

  32. topgun says:

    I’ve bought a lot of brand name stuff at Dollar Tree. I find even the mostly Made in China stuff is still worth a buck.

  33. Skin Art Squared says:

    Never been to a dollar store in my life. I generally tend not to buy worthless crap.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @BZMedia:

      Years ago, I guess the stuff was better, because my mom bought some thin “irregular” towels for me to take to camp (this was in like 1982) and I still have them. Only recently have they begun to fray.

  34. gman863 says:

    I’ll second the comments on 99 Cents Only Stores – their merchandise mix is 90% trash; however it’s worth visiting a few times per month to find the treasures.

    If you’re near one and have about 15 minutes, stop in and scan the aisles. If you are passing by one in a different area, it may have different items (especially the name brand overstocks/closeouts which make the trip worthwhile).

    On the name brand deals, check the expiration dates and STOCK UP! These are the items that are usually one time deals and sell out quickly.

    Here are a few of my 99 Cent Only Store scores from the past month or so:

    * Right Guard Sport Stick, large size (about $3.50 each at Wal-Mart).
    * Fresh lemons – 8 for .99 versus 3/$1 at Kroger.
    * Fresh baby carrots ($2.49 at Kroger).
    * Scotch tear-by-hand packing tape ($3 at Office Depot).
    * Sara Lee bagels, 6 pack (around $3 at Kroger or Wal-Mart)

  35. GinaLouise says:

    I was eating kosher pickles at my mom’s house recently and she mentioned that she’d bought them at the dollar store. It was then that I spotted the “Product of Bangladesh” label. I’ll trust Bangladesh with a great many things, but not kosher pickles.

  36. vermontwriter says:

    We have a dollar store in this area that sells T-shirts for $1. They are great quality, Hanes tags, and usually include shirts that have printing errors or where a company ordered too many. I have a collection including some charity walk IBM did and then tourism type shirts from Aruba, Cayman Islands, Long Beach, Long Island, Wyoming and Cheers in Boston. My teenager only wears t-shirts to school, so I can save a bundle on back to school shopping.

    Those are the deals I look for when I’m in a dollar store.

  37. simonster says:

    The 99 cents only stores in the Los Angeles area (which actually cost 99.99 cents) have some great deals, and some less great deals. Usually, their fresh produce is surprisingly adequate (although still far inferior to the local farmer’s market), and far cheaper than any other grocery store in the area. It’s hard to imagine that real terracotta pots, badminton rackets, and yoga mats could be bought anywhere for under a dollar. There are also items like USB cables, headphone splitters, RCA to miniplug adapters that I was happily surprised to find there; $1 is several times cheaper than retail elsewhere and approaches the cheapest online prices.

    On the other hand, we’ve purchased a couple flashlights that didn’t last more than a week, and found that brand name plastic bags cost the same at Wal-Mart (when purchased in quantity) as the generics do at the 99 cent store. There’s a large quantity of tupperware that would be cheaper at IKEA. So yes, there are definitely bargains to be had, but it pays to watch out.

  38. WorldHarmony says:

    I used to avoid dollar stores like the plague, but you really can save money on some items. My friends recently provided guests with a set of handsome glasses during dinner and surprised everyone by admitting with mock shame that they had purchased them at a dollar store.