My girlfriend is a fan of some dollar stores, notably Dollar Tree, while I can take them or leave them. In a good dollar store, you can find everyday items with high enough quality to be sufficient at a price you don’t mind spending.
At the other end of the spectrum, dollar stores are able to keep low prices because the quality of some products is quite substandard. In June, some dollar stores were carrying the tainted toothpaste with a fake Colgate label.
According to Marshall Loeb at MarketWatch and Consumer Reports‘ Shop Smart magazine, some multivitamins don’t contain the nutrients advertised on the bottles and electronic items often have inadequate gauge wiring.
We’ve purchased computer paper, shelf liner, baskets, and birthday cards at quality dollar stores, but items like pens, pencils, index cards, and other school supplies can be found for less money elsewhere. Surprisingly, we’ve even found wine glasses nice enough for outdoor entertainment; if they break en route, then they’re easily and inexpensively replaced.
On the other hand, one of my coworkers will never have any interest in dollar stores. I think dollar stores have merit, but you have to be a careful shopper and avoid some of the more substandard items and those items that can be found elsewhere for less money.
What are the best dollar store deals you’ve found, and what should you avoid?
Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published July 30, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.