Best Dollar Store Deals and Worst Ripoffs
By Steve Gillman
Some of the best dollar store deals are overstock and closeout
items that are distributed through these outlets. That's because
they go cheap at the wholesale level, so you can find some quality
merchandise for much less than normal--for a dollar. For example,
polished granite "eggs" were popular briefly a few
years back, and were selling for $15 at gift shops. Some store
or middleman went out of business, and so they were also available
(at the same time) for $1 in the local dollar store where I lived.
The dollar store ripoffs include many of the items that are
specifically manufactured for these stores. Some dollar hand
tools, for example, will fall apart the first time you try to
use them. here's a look at some more dollar deals and ripoffs.
Dollar Store Deals
Window cleaners - There is little to mess up with the making
of window cleaning solution, and it often cost less at dollar
stores than anywhere else.
Other cleaning solutions - Other cleaners are also normally
cheapest at these stores, but you'll have to test them one by
one to see which are of decent quality.
Gift bags - Much easier than wrapping things, and these colorful
bags will usually cost at least $2 in other stores.
Greeting cards - Quality of the paper is not an issue with
greeting cards, and it is rare to find them for a dollar at other
Glassware - You can get glasses cheap at other stores, but
usually only by buying a large set.
Picture frames - Although they can be low quality, you can
generally tell by looking at them, and it doesn't get cheaper
than than this for a wooden frame.
Hand mirrors - Try to find one for a dollar anywhere else.
Brooms - The quality is very low usually, but these are a
great buy for spares to use for garages and sheds.
Storage bins - The plastic storage bins are not strong, but
they work well for many purposes.
Decorations - Since most ribbons and other decorations are thrown
out after parties, why pay more?
Dollar Store Ripoffs
Paper products - The trick here is using low-quality paper
for napkins and toilet paper, making them look like a normal
size package while actually having far less product than normal.
There may be exceptions (there can always be closeouts on quality
paper plates or paper towels, after all), but generally these
are a ripoff.
Dish washing detergent - The quality might be okay, but the
bottles sold are often very small, and it is cheaper per-ounce
to buy a larger bottle at any other store.
Knives - The quality is low enough to be dangerous when it
comes to most dollar store knives, both for the kitchen and pocket
Candy - Most of the packages contain less candy than you might
think, making it expensive compared to buying bigger bags in
Batteries - There are exceptions, but the batteries sold in
these places are often the lowest-quality thing that can be called
(just barely) a battery.
Bottled water - It is cheaper in bulk in other places, and I'm
not sure I would trust dollar store water.
Toys - It looks like there are some great deals here, and there
may be a few, but most of these items break easily and often
have flaws from the start. Then there is the possibility of lead
in children's toys that come from China.
Extension cords - Low quality, and possibly dangerous.
Pet food - These stores can be a dumping ground for low-quality
pet food that can't be sold elsewhere.
People food - Smaller-than-normal sizes make many foods less
of a deal than they appear to be, and labels are often designed
to look like they are a name brand when they are not.
There can always be exceptions to these dollar store examples--both
good and bad. Those cheap brooms might be so low quality that
they fall apart after one use (I've had it happen), and a store
can sometimes get a cheap closeout supply of high-quality name
brand food or merchandise.