15 Things to Avoid Buying at Dollar Stores
When you first walk inside of a Dollar Store, it is easy to become overwhelmed. It feels like there are bargains all over the place and it is easy to fill up a buggy if you act purely on shopping instinct.
If you dig a bit deeper and ask around, you will quickly find out that some of those “bargains” are not so great after all. By all means, the Dollar Stores out there are helpful and provide value if you know what items to buy and what to avoid.
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Every time I write an article about the Dollar Stores I always get the people who say “But there are some Good Deals” And I agree! Here are 5 items I love buying at The Dollar Stores, remember it’s all about being an educated consumer and paying attention to unit prices so that you know that you really are getting a good deal.
- Party Supplies! The Dollar Stores typically have a great selection of Holiday and Party Items, things like Paper Plates, Napkins, and Plastic Forks that are going to be thrown away after one use are a steal at just $1
- Cards – Most Dollar Stores carry a great selection of cards for just $1 or even 2/$1 I love that there are always different options to choose from and I can get everything from a Birthday Card to a Valentines Day Card or Thinking of You Card.
- Balloons – I hate paying $4-$5 for a Balloon at the Grocery Store, the Dollar Stores are my go to for things like this. It’s amazing how much a child loves getting a balloon for their Birthday, it’s a great way to add a lot of fun to a party without a lot of expense.
- Name Brand Items – Some Dollar Stores carry closeouts on Name Brand Items, Things like Lysol, Tylenol, Hand Soap, Razors, etc. If you can find a name brand item that is being closed out there is a chance you can also use a Coupon for even more Savings! Just be sure to check the unit price to make sure it’s a full size item on closeout not a special made for a Dollar Store Package that might contain a smaller quantity.
- Storage Containers – When I’m taking a meal to a friend and I want to have something I can store food in and then leave I often hit up the Dollar Stores, these smaller plastic containers or foil pans are great for taking and leaving somewhere.
Here are 15 items that I typically avoid at Dollar Stores:
1. Electronics – If you give this a bit of thought, you will understand that a one dollar electrical device of any kind is destined to be pretty poorly made. If you are needing something for a one time use then it might work just fine, I just typically don’t expect much longevity out of Dollar Store Electronics.
2. Tools – There are some things that are worth investing in and well made tools will last a lifetime. Dollar Store Tools are typically poorly made and often break quickly or don’t hold up very long. With some tools this can actually be dangerous.
3. Trash Bags – There are 2 sides to this one, first you don’t want to end up doubling up the bags if you have a lot of heavy items in your trash, most of the Dollar Store Trashbags are thinner plastic which may mean they tear easily. Second its important to compare the price per bag. Often times the boxes at the Dollar Stores are smaller quantities which means per bag you may actually be paying more.
4. Vitamins – When it comes to vitamins, I am very careful about what I put in my body. There have been a lot of studies lately about even the vitamins at stores like Target and Walmart not being very good quality. I typically avoid vitamins from Dollar Stores and opt for something of a higher quality but this one is really a personal decision.
5. Shampoo & Conditioner – Because I use coupons I can almost always get Shampoo & Conditioner for under $1, we post deals and sales all the time that are cheaper than this for Name Brand Products, this is one of those items that I just skip all together because I know I can get it cheaper somewhere else.
6. Canned Vegetables – You can get Canned Vegetables at most stores for between $0.50-$0.75 if you opt for the store brand so there’s no reason to pay more for the same item at the Dollar Stores.
7. Toys – Some of the toys are fine in the Dollar Stores however most of them end up breaking within the first few weeks of bringing them home. While I do on occasion buy small items for Easter Baskets or Stocking Stuffers, I prefer to buy my kids one larger toy they will get more use out of rather than a lot of small inexpensive toys.
8. Knives – This pretty much goes for any store because poorly made but knives in particular are really dangerous. I typically avoid the knives at dollar stores but you can find some great deals on Plastic Utensils, I have heard good things about the Betty Crocker Line at the Dollar Tree.
9. Toilet Tissue – While toilet paper is…well…toilet paper the Dollar Stores typically carry very small and thin packages. I really believe in comparing unit prices, unless you have coupons you can normally find Toilet Paper cheaper at Target or CVS. Also make sure you check for 1 ply or 2 ply, the thinner stuff requires you to use more so it might not be as much of a savings as you think.
10. Meats – Yes, some Dollar Stores offer up steak for sale but more typically they offer pre-packaged meats that when compared to other stores may actually be overpriced. It’s eye catching to think of buying a package of bacon for $1 but you really need to compare the quality and price per ounce because the packages are typically so much smaller that you really aren’t getting as good of a deal as you think if you were to purchase the same quantity based on weight.
11. Aluminum Foil – This is actually decent foil, but the amount you get is not really enough to cover one dish. I highly recommend comparing the price per sq. ft. You will often find a Store Brand like Great Value or Target’s Up & Up Brands work great and are cheaper per Sq. Ft.
12. Diapers – In an absolute emergency these will do, but the once or twice I have used these I ended up with leaks or tabs tearing off. Also the packages are small think 3 for $1 which is $0.33 each, I normally aim to pay between $0.10 – $0.15 per diaper by stocking up on sales so this is an item I normally avoid all together.
13. Perishable Foods – There are a handful of exceptions here, but very few. When I go into my local Dollar Store, I always make sure to check the Expiration Dates of perishable foods as well as to check the ingredients. I am not crazy about things like Cheese or Dairy Products, I typically opt for stores like Aldi or Store Brands at Walmart before picking up these items.
14. Laundry Detergent – This is an item a lot of people will gravitate towards because it sounds cheap, I always like to remember that I can almost always get a Full Size bottle of Laundry Detergent for just $0.99 especially if you aren’t picky about the brand, so be sure to compare the size of loads at the Dollar Stores they normally aren’t as large of a bottle so your better off waiting for a sale at another store.
15. Sports Cards – If you collect sportscards and see their huge display, you might get excited. The problem with the Dollar Store trading cards is that they are often a different printing. If they are the same as the “real” deal, they only contain base cards and none of the elusive inserts, parallels or low print cards that make the industry popular.
These are only a handful of the items that you should avoid. Certainly there are a ton of great things to get there, but you need to be selective. Take your time, pay attention to quality and quantity and never buy on impulse. If you do these things, you will do well in the Dollar Store.
If you love shopping at The Dollar Stores then make sure you check out these Dollar Store Organization Hacks for some new ideas!
Dollar Store Photo Credit Mike Mozart. Used under Creative Commons Liscense.