Dollar Store Deals

Everyone loves a deal! That’s why dollar stores are so popular.
But will shopping at the dollar store really save you money?
Studio 5 Contributor and Consumer expert, Teresa Hunsaker, reveals
whether your favorite dollar store item is a good deal or not.

Dollar stores are becoming increasingly popular, especially in this
economy. But the question that we raise is whether they are really a great
deal or not? Are there some things that are better deals generally than

I looked at:

. Overall quality

. Price per unit (sometimes ounce for ounce, or piece for piece it was
cheaper to buy it in bulk somewhere else)

. Effectiveness for the job (if it was a cleaning product)

. Possible concerns—lead in the ceramic of dishes made in China, OTC
medications effectiveness or safety, vitamins being “good”, etc.

The “dollar” stores are stocked with mainly two kinds of items…ones that
are made for the dollar stores, and ones that are close out from national
brands. There are so many items in these stores that is difficult to find
consistency in any one product or item always being there. Typically once
they are out, they are out. It pays to know prices, or at least have an idea
of what is a deal or not. Here is what I found:

Generally Good Deals

. Gift bags, party invites, ribbons, bows, tissue paper, gift wrap, greeting
cards (often 2/$1)

. Kitchen tools—measuring cups/spoons, ice cream scoops, wire whisks,
spatulas, graters, etc.

. Small storage containers, tubs, baskets and bins.

. Cleaning products and supplies…mops, rubber gloves, sponges, and all
purpose cleaners…work just as well as higher priced cleaners.

. Pet toys…saving close to $3 per toy

. Holiday/seasonal decorations

. Mylar balloons…may save as much as $4+ per balloon

. Disposable aluminum pans for freeze ahead meals…savings of around
$2-$3 per pan

. Picture frames

. Pregnancy tests

. Baby Shampoo and De-tangler

. Spices—while there isn’t a big selection the price point is quite

. Hair elastics, headbands, clips, and bows are a great bargain at the
dollar store.

. Disposable food storage containers.

. Some dishtowels—look them over carefully, some are better than

. Some make-up, like lipsticks, eye liners, and applicator brushes are
generally a good deal…saving can be as much as $6-$7 depending on the

Not Such Great Deals

. Kids toy—usually not well made, not a great selection, and sometimes
bypass US regulations so may not be made safely…such as lead in the
paints, etc.

. Canned goods—why pay $1 for a can of green beans when I can get
them 2/$1 consistently at the supermarket if I watch the sales?

. Vitamins—Consumer Report says it is not such a good idea…quality
and labeling inaccuracy, and don’t absorb readily.

. Batteries—from everything I have read I would stay clear of batteries
and even other forms of electronics…apparently some of these stores sell
products for foreign markets and may not comply with US standards, have
batteries that leak readily, or don’t last as long.

. Over the Counter medications—not a great idea, apparently some
independently owned dollar stores have altered the labels and packaging as
well as counterfeit the product inside.

. Salt, baking soda, and brown sugar can all be found for less at the

. Paper products—paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, etc. I was not
impressed with the overall quality of these items.

. Back to School items are not a big savings…stock up during back to
school season as places like Target and WalMart for the real great deals.

. Hot pads and oven mitts—not well made and do not resist heat well.

. Cotton swabs are flimsy and do not have enough cotton on the ends.

One other note: Dollar stores do not typically take coupons.


Kiplinger Magazine

Financially Fit web post

The Cheapskate Next Door

If you have any questions, contact Teresa Hunsaker at the Family and
Consumer Science Education Department at the Weber County USU
Extension office at (801) 399-8203 or online at