Dollar stores attract us with very low prices. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but often the things they sell are good products at a massive discount – the real deal.
Here’s what bargain-shopping experts say are some of the best dollar store buys can buy.
1. Greeting cards
There is no reason to spend $5 or more on greeting cards when dollar stores often have a selection for $1 or less. In fact, the only ways we know of to get cheaper greeting cards are to make them yourself and take advantage of Hallmark’s periodic freebies.
Availability in dollar stores can vary, and you may not get fancy paper or extras like ribbons. But the heartfelt message you write inside will be the same no matter how expensive the shape of the card is.
2. Seasonal decoration
From extra ornaments for your Christmas tree to a scarecrow you can buy in your front yard in the fall, dollar stores can have a surprisingly strong selection of seasonal decor, as we explain in “23 Holiday Items You Should Buy at Dollar Stores.”
Warning: When shopping for holiday lights, buy only those that bear a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label stating that they have been tested and verified for safety. Some electronic items sold at dollar stores aren’t worth the risk, according to The Washington Post:
“Off-brand electronics can be risky purchases, as their supply chains are not as consistent as the brands you find at other retailers. Power strips and chargers are more likely to be inexpensive and can damage your devices.”
Buy notebooks at a dollar store and save on paper. Small notebooks are a great way to carry to-do lists and groceries in a handbag or pocket. It’s also good to have on hand for writing notes or for meetings. Kids love doodling books or writing diaries.
4. Gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper
While you have the party supplies on hand, look for gift bags and wrapping paper, too. You may end up paying much less than gift bags and boxes at other stores.
In addition, wrapping paper can be a steal. You might not get the same thickness of expensive paper, but for something that will end up in the trash, why pay more?
5. Storage containers
Organize clutter with containers that you can store in a closet, drawer, or under the bed. At a dollar store, you can buy all the containers you need to organize every room in your home or office. They’re perfect for toys, craft supplies, clothing, and more.
6. Party Supplies
You can often save a lot by using party supplies from a dollar store. Grab party hats, plastic tablecloths, paper plates and cups, banners and favors — and save a bundle.
Don’t forget to look for mylar or foil balloons, too. This can be an absolute bargain, selling a lot elsewhere.
7. Reading glasses
As we age, the lenses of our eyes lose some of their flexibility, making it more difficult to focus on nearby objects. In many cases, all you need is a simple pair of reading glasses, and reading glasses at dollar stores are usually fine.
However, if you’re having trouble seeing from a distance, it might be time to schedule an eye exam and find out how to get a pair of prescriptions.
8. Hair Accessories
From headbands to hairpins, you can find hair accessories at dollar stores for a fraction of the price elsewhere. Combs and brushes can be a bargain, too.
9. Pregnancy tests
Pregnancy tests at the grocery store will set you back $10 to $15. You can find pregnancy tests in some dollar stores for just $1.
Note: Pregnancy tests expire, so put the date on the box.
10. Carrying bags
Handbags are never close at hand when you need them; They seem to disappear like socks. Buy a set of reusable polyester bags at a dollar store. Shop carefully: some are a bargain while others may not.
Use them in place of paper or plastic for your groceries, to carry gym clothes, to deliver things to family and friends, or to pack for a night out for the kids.
11. Decorative vases and bowls
Do not bother with other stores for vases and decorative bowls. Your dollar store probably carries a number of styles at an unbeatable price.
These vases let you skip the florist and make your own, less expensive arrangements. Or decorate decorative glass bowls to make inexpensive gifts for family or friends.
12. Cups and glasses
Mugs and glasses are another great buy at dollar stores. You can usually only buy as many items as you need, not an entire set.
Dollar stores often also have a nice selection of open-top dinnerware or plates. They may not be of high quality, but these stoneware bowls, bowls, and mugs are perfectly serviceable.
For those with young children, dollar store plates can be just what you need to get past that phase of life when something seems to be breaking in the kitchen on a weekly basis.
14. Plastic food containers
Plastic food containers also get a thumbs up when it comes to big dollar store purchases. At the grocery store, you can easily pay up to $5 for a disposable container. Get cheap brand name food containers at the dollar store instead.
You can also find some great deals on food storage bags, but be wary of other brands that may not seal properly.
Dollar stores are removing unsafe plastics from their shelves. However, shoppers should pay attention to safety and quality when it comes to cheap plastic.
15. Photo Frames
If you’re crafty, dollar store picture frames are an excellent buy. With a little paint or other trim, bargain frames can look just as beautiful on your walls as their more expensive counterparts.
However, quality can vary widely. Check the corner joints to make sure they are secure and look for stray clumps of glue that are difficult to remove.
16. Packaged or packaged candy
Checkout lane candy is probably the cheapest, if not the cheapest, at the grocery store. But movie theater-style candy and bagged candy can be a bargain at the dollar store. Head there to get your Halloween gifts instead of paying supermarket prices.
A lot of the clothes you find in a dollar store are of poor quality and not worth the money. One exception may be socks.
Dollar store socks can be just as good as department store types if you buy the right kind. Look for men’s, women’s, and children’s socks made of acrylic or spandex for a comfortable fit.
18. Towels and dish towels
The price of towels and dish towels at the dollar store can’t be beat. You should be careful, though. Some towels may not be absorbent enough to dry the dishes. But even those can work great as cleaning rags.
19. Plastic buckets
Who does not need a plastic bucket? And who has one when they need it? Get a plastic bucket at a dollar store to wash cars, clean floors, and carry liquids, or carry shellfish, fish, or herbs into the garden.
20. Coffee filters
Here’s a deal you’ll appreciate every day: Coffee filters cost less at a dollar store. It is ideal for home and office.
21. Travel Size Toiletries
Do you love those little containers of toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, makeup wipes, mouthwash, and soap? They are great for travel and also for carrying in a car, purse, briefcase or backpack.
The Washington Post says they’re usually a better deal at a dollar store than at major retailers and drugstores.
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