Dollar stores are a relatively recent phenomenon in my neck of the woods. But with three department store chains having gone out of business in as many years, we’re all looking for new places to shop and save some money.
Here’s what’s worth getting, and what isn’t:
In the YES category …
I love my daughter dearly, but I am not going to keep every little glitter-covered, macaroni-spackled, piece of art she produces. What’s important to me is having the supplies to let her express herself and have fun (and keep her busy for 15-freaking minutes on a rainy day). Our local dollar store has a plethora of seasonally themed crafts, glitter glue, glue sticks, construction paper, colouring books, and paint. The price is low and the options are great.
Quick tip: for items where poor quality can be frustrating (crayons, paint) stick to name-brands (our dollar store carries Crayola products).
You want to keep an eye out for quality when looking at household goods. Anything without moving parts can be a good bet. I highly recommend wastepaper baskets, microfiber cloths (excellent for cleaning), and laundry baskets (small, but useful for corralling dirty socks, or sorting toys).
Quick tip: avoid anything that gets a lot of wear-and-tear. Placemats, tablecloths, front door mats, and shower curtains are all best found elsewhere.
The dollar store has been a great source of inexpensive tupperware. Don’t get the cheapest stuff. But for a few dollars you can get a large container that you won’t mind leaving at someone’s house. Looking for a big container for your kid’s kinetic sand? Look no further. Want to keep small toys in something that’s see-through and easy to store? You get what I’m saying. It’s not the prettiest stuff, but my standards dropped somewhere between the endless crumbs on the floor and all the darn laundry.
Quick tip: avoid mugs and ceramic plates. Any patterns fade quickly and lighter colours become quickly marked up. But our favourite juice (bourbon) glasses? Bought at the dollar store 9 years ago.
And in the NOs …
Try second-hand for a similar price-point and a higher quality.
There are some decent options here, but avoid anything with moving parts or batteries.
Small sizes of household staples
Try to avoid the small packages of toilet paper, dish soap, and laundry detergent. The quality of the product might be fine, but the per unit cost is likely to be much higher than what’s found in the grocery store. If money’s tight, sharing a larger package with a friend can be a good solution.
In conclusion, the best way to get the most value for your money (and be a responsible consumer) is to buy only what you actually need. Don’t settle for a cheaper product if you don’t think it will last, and don’t buy something just because the price is low.
Do you shop at the dollar store? Is there anything you recommend?