When is a Dollar a Deal? (Dollar Stores)

2 Aug

Today I made a trip to a Dollar Tree store. Everything in this store is a dollar, and though other dollar stores don’t have quite those kinds of prices, they all offer some great values. However, it’s important to note that some things are great deals at dollar store prices, and some aren’t. How can you tell what’s what? Here’s a quick (and by no means concise) list of ideas for what to buy at dollar stores -and what to wait for another store to pick up.

Great Dollar Store Values

  • Select Toiletries (Some brand name products are sold at dollar stores for around a dollar ,while they are up to twice that price elsewhere. Check the size, though – sometimes value is more than just price per item!)
  • Food/Beverage items – Buy your bottled soft drinks at the dollar store – specifically Dollar Tree. Our local store offers 21 ounce bottles for a dollar each; much cheaper than the local grocery stores or even Wal-Mart. 2-liters are less expensive elsewhere at times, but if you can’t find them on sale when you need them, head to your favorite dollar store. 
  • Newspapers – My local Dollar Tree offers Sundays newspapers for only a dollar, while they are $1.25-$1.75 elsewhere. This may not seem like great savings, but if you’re buying several papers every week, all year long, it adds up to a great deal over time. Be sure to get there early, though – many stores sell out early on Sunday because of this great price!
  • Personal care items – Check your local dollar stores for feminine care, vitamins & other medicines, sexual health products, razors, cosmetics and other products at better deals than stores like Kroger or CVS, and sometimes their prices are even comparable to Wal-Mart & other big box discount retailers. This can save something other than just money – if you can get your favorite items for the same prices without having to drive to a crowded big box store, you’ll save your time and sanity as well!

Not everything is a great deal at dollar stores. Beware not-so-great prices on:

  • Sample & travel size items – Often sold for around a dollar at these stores, these items can be found elsewhere – often is larger sizes or of better quality – for less. Check Wal-Mart or Target for deals on these items. 
  • Canned goods – A dollar a can for veggies? $1.50 for a can of broth or condensed soup? These deals are not worth the time of anyone who can shop sales elsewhere. Stack coupons with sales at grocers like Kroger to grab much better deals here. (As always, Aldi also has great deals on these items – no coupons necessary!)
  • Entertainment – Movies, cds, electronics, etc.; not the thing to pick up during a dollar store trip. Though you may find good deals on these items here, it’s unlikely that a better deal can not be had elsewhere, especially during seasonal sales. (Think holiday shopping season!) Dollar stores offer limited quantities & selection, so try big box retailers or websites like Amazon for these items.

In short, some items are great buys at dollar stores – especially those $1 deals! – and some aren’t. Try taking a trip & scouting prices on your favorite items at your local store, then compare them with the prices you’re accustomed to paying elsewhere. You may just find a treasure trove of awesome deals you’ve been missing!

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