For the love of Dollar Stores

dollar billLet me begin with a breakdown of the different types of dollar stores because although they have the word dollar in their names, they vary in ways that will make me choose one over the other, depending on what I need.

The Dollar Tree – An American of discount that sells items for $1 or less. Less! I once bought a bag of Christmas gift bows, a mini gingerbread flavored candle, and 100 Christmas tags for 10 cents each. They’re a Fortune 500 company believe it or not. They have about 13,600 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Pros

  • No tricks. You never have to ask if something is really $1, unlike other “dollar” stores.

Cons

  • Very few name brands. This may be a turn-off for a lot of people, but come on, it’s a dollar store. I estimate that 90% of the brands they carry are those I’ve never heard of.
  • You can’t trust the quality of certain items.  Examples below.
    • Electronics – stay away from Mini Portable Headphone Speakers that you plug into your phone. They will NOT boost the volume of anything. It actually worsens it.
    • Foods, health & beauty, and other things that you (may) ingest. I have a good feeling about our Food and Drug Administration standards, but sometimes I believe these off-brand products do not go through the same rigorous quality assurance testing that the big boys do. I can’t prove it, but I am following my gut on this one.
  • Randomness. That unheard of Matt Dillon movie he did before he got famous? Part 2 of that movie is at The Dollar Tree. The fourth book of the “Left Behind” series? There are eight copies of just that one book. That’s it.

Best Dollar Tree deals:

  • Bleach. I’m not convinced that Clorox makes a more powerful bleach.
  • Scrubbing brushes – when it comes to cleaning the grout and tile in my, I prefer that when I clean it once a month, I don’t leave the cleaning brush around to keep spreading the mold spores. So, do I feel a clean shower is worth spending $2 (on a new brush and a bottle of bleach) every month. Absolutely.
  • River rocks – these are rocks that are “found” at the edges of rivers and are perfect for arts and crafts, filling vases and/or candle holders. Buying the equivalent at Wal-Mart or any arts and crafts store can be double or even triple the cost.
  • Vases (and candle holders) – they come in so many sizes and shapes: tall and thin, wide and round, curved, single flower or bouquet
  • Glasses/Mugs – dollar store goblets and wine glasses fill my cabinet at home. And if you ever want to make a personalized gift basket for that hot chocolate or coffee lover, this is the way to go.
  • Toothbrushes – they sell a 6-pack for $1. This is perfect for if we’re on vacation and somebody left his/her toothbrush at home. And also for cleaning, e.g. the edges of the water tap, baseboards, and the corners of my shower.
  • Gift wrap, gift bags, tape, Mylar balloons – I stopped buying all that expensive stuff unless it’s absolutely necessary, i.e. I have to buy a gift (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart) and I have no time to make a Dollar Tree stop. Now while there may no be a savings in the gift wrap, I buy 5 or 6 rolls at a time and this gives Christmas gifts a more varied look under the tree. Don’t even think about getting mylar balloons at Party City – they charge $2.00 – $4.00 for the basic Mylar balloons at the Dollar Tree. Think you can beat the system by buying the cheapy rubber ones in the store and asking them to inflate them? Nope. They charge an inflating fee to blow them up;
  • Batteries – while you can get 8 AA batteries for $1, they’re not ideal for battery-consuming electronics, children’s toys, flashlights, dildos, vibrators, and certainly not a smoke alarm. But, if I need batteries for my remote control, perfect.
  • “Movie Theater” candy. Don’t want to spend $4 for a box of Junior Mints, Whoppers, or Snowcaps at the movie theater? You know what to do. Don’t forget to wear an overcoat and try not to shake your pockets as you walk through the concession area. But you didn’t hear that from me.

Overall, what The Dollar Tree lacks in high-quality name-brand products, they make up for in price in many practical items.

Dollar General – Like The Dollar Tree, Dollar General is an America chain that boasts “delivering value to shoppers for over 75 years.” They have 12,000 stores in 43 states. They state in their “About Us” section on their website that they carry products from a lot of “America’s most-trusted” manufactures (Clorox, Energizer, Procter & Gamble, Hanes, Mars, General Mills, to name a few).

Pros

  • Brand names. More choices of name-brand items means gaining your customers’ trust. Need a couple of 2-liter bottles for that party you promised to bring drinks for and don’t want to wait in line?
  • Hours. Dollar General has been there for me and my family for Christmas. Specifically, when other stores close at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, or even 8:00 p.m. (trust me, it makes a world of difference), Dollar General was open until 10:00 p.m. for a stocking stuffers and even Santa’s wishlist items.

Cons

  • Deals. In that there really are no great deals. However, day-after holiday clearance items are a pretty good deal.

Overall, Dollar General is basically a condensed version of Wal-Mart in terms of price, quality, and selection. I will always choose Dollar General for easy accessibility, avoiding buying items in “bulk,” and to avoid long lines. I don’t go there for the great deals or variety, because variety-wise, they’re equal to Target or any other grocery store in town. Basically, they’re our modern day general store (aha!)

So, what have dollar stores taught me? That there is a hierarchy in quality and selection. The other dollar store in my area is Family Dollar, but it is very similar to Dollar General and not worth noting the comparisons to the above-mentioned chains. Too bad there isn’t a local 99 cent store or even a 98 cent store that I grew up going to. Now THAT would be an amazing adventure in retail.

Oh, was this blog not sexy enough for you?!  Well, you can buy lube at Dollar General if you wanted!   Boom, now it’s sexual bitches!