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10 Things to Buy and Not Buy from the Dollar Store


10 Things to Buy and Not Buy from the Dollar Store

A local dollar store is a good place to find more than affordable goods, or to just have a fun browse for random and interesting things for cheap prices. (Especially at “true” dollar stores where every item really is one dollar.) Many people have come to rely on the low prices of a wide range of items, and many things do turn out to be a good bargain when compared with other retail stores. However, there are definitely many other items that are certainly not worth your dollar. Here are five products that are, (and five that aren’t), worth buying from the dollar store.

10. Greeting cards (Worth it!)

Greeting cards are an excellent note of heartfelt sentiment or perfect for a celebration, but in the end they are after all, essentially,  just pieces of paper. Paper, which, admittedly, the majority of receivers don’t even keep! Gift shops, grocery stores, and department stores sell cards for upwards of four, five, six, or even 10 dollars for ones that have all the bells, whistles, and extra, unnecessary glitz. Why pay more for a paper that will go from your hands, to the recipient, to the trash when you can get just as great quality ones for much, much less? Dollar store cards certainly don’t lack an ounce of the deeply meaningful messages or impressive designs. Don’t worry about the selection either–they have every holiday, anniversary, and moment to celebrate you can think of to offer in their choices, as well as offering cards for a diverse group of recipients. (Such as son-in-law, granddaughter, first birthday, aunt, sister, to and from couples, etc.) The real difference is they only cost a dollar–and many are offered at fifty cents (or at two-for-a-dollar deals.) It’s the thought that counts, and your tender thoughts will certainly shine through any greeting card you give, no matter the cost.

9. Candy (Worth it!)

Candy bars and sweets can easily be hiked way up in price at small shops and grocery store registers, since people tend to grab them out of convenience or on a whim. Dollar store candy is not only exceptionally vast in its array of choices, but they also have more rare, old fashioned, or hard to find confections. (Don’t worry, there are also popular candy brands to be found.) Quantities are interesting and varied as well with many coming in a handy movie-theater style box (without the notorious movie-theater prices) as well as individually wrapped, fun-size bags, (great for favors,) or bite-sized, among others. Scanning the aisles you are sure to spot candies that you remember back from your childhood or couldn’t ever seem to find at your other local stores. Additionally, there are unique, fun, interesting, uncommon candies and sweets to taste! You may just stumble upon a very affordable, new favorite treat while exploring the store’s selection.

8. Disposable dishes/cutlery (Worth it!)

If you require the use of single-use plastic and paper or disposable dishes and cutlery, why not get them cheap? You’re only going to use them once and throw them right away anyway, so there’s no reason to pay a premium price for a certain brand, style, or design of a disposable dish. As long as they’re sturdy enough to use, (for example, if you don’t have to double-up the plates to fortifying their strength, in which case you would lose money by having to use multiple products at once,) there’s no harm done in paying less for a package of paper plates, a box of plastic forks, or a stack of paper cups. Dollar stores even have these items in various color sets and oftentimes featuring different characters, which is perfect if you need the dishware to fit a certain theme for a party or get-together. There are also some really, really beautiful, clear, plastic pieces, shaped into crystal platters, elegant serving utensils, champagne flutes, sophisticated cocktail cups, and more. Yeah, paying premium for those pretty, top brand products may look nice, we guess, but as long as dollar tree disposable dishware is sturdy and reliable enough to work, they’re all going to end up in the trash anyway.

7. Decorations (Worth it!)

Another item that seems to, for the majority of the time, come in disposable or somewhat single-use form. Especially things like crepe paper, foil banners, ribbons, paper tablecloths, balloons, candles, etc. There is an excellent variety of colors of birthday sets (and other occasions, such as baby showers and wedding showers,) for decorating and really making your party atmosphere pop with appealing decorative details. However, there is a whole other side to decorating on a budget with sturdy, permanent, highly reusable decorations. Dollar store holiday sections are notorious for updating fast and offering wide selections for practically every single holiday of the year. And, believe it or not, they actually have extremely decent quality decoration items that you can easily keep in the family to use time after time. It certainly seems like the right choice to make for some home decor and party items when you compare prices to high-end, ultra-posh homegood stores and party supply stores, where prices can be found through the roof since they specialize in those goods. May as well browse the snacks, get some birthday party supplies, and pick up a cute Christmas decoration for your home…all for just one dollar.

6. Dishes and mugs (Worth it!)

Another dollar store item renowned for its sturdiness and usual quality of material is the vast and varied dishware collections lining the aisles. Made from actual glass, pottery, porcelain, ceramic, stoneware, and more, mugs, plates, cups, vases, and other dishes are a sound investment for their cost of a dollar. Single pieces or small, matching sets are the perfect thing to bolster your current dishware situation, for example if you need extra bowls or a set of eight matching dessert plates. They are especially useful for other intentions, such as vases for flowers or as pitchers, large coffee mugs as succulent planters, or to add to elements of a gift. (For example, putting cozy, fluffy socks (also found at the dollar store,) with cocoa, candy, and a face mask into a tea cup for a present kit. The possibilities are limitless if you search your imagination!


5. “Cheese” (Not worth it!)

The packaging may look like cheese, the product may smell like cheese, or taste like cheese, but it may not act like cheese—or even be cheese—at all. Interestingly enough, “cheese” from dollar stores doesn’t appear to contain any actual cheese in it’s ingredients. A lot of it is oils (and a whole bunch of other things you probably don’t want to know about) and may call itself a “topping” without ever using the word “cheese” in its title or description at all. It’s also been pointed out in online forums that the phrase “this product not designed to melt” was among the fine print on the facade package. If you can’t count on melty shredded cheese for your meal, how much more can you actually do with it? When it comes to the cheapest dairy products, we recommend sticking to the fresh stuff. Or at least the real stuff!

4. Name brand products (Not worth it!)

Spy a bottle or jar of a coveted name brand product–for only a dollar?! Score! …Or is it? You may think you majorly lucked out in finding a popular name brand for way less than at a conventional store, but in reality you may not be getting such a good bargain after all. Sometimes, certain name brand products at dollar stores only offer a miniaturized version of the real deal. That way, in these tiny sizes, you’re already getting less of the product. –Yes, you’ll still be paying less for this small sample of the product, but it’s actually more cost effective to buy in a bigger amount, which cost less per ounce/pound/count/etc. For example, Gain brand’s “Original Laundry Detergent” at somewhere where everything is truly a dollar, like Dollar Tree, is 10 ounces for a dollar, while the same detergent in a whopping 25 ounce size is less than five dollars at Walmart. ($4.74 to be precise, according to Would you rather pay 10 cents per ounce, or less than 2 cents per ounce? To us, the answer is clear. (There are some name brands that have fixed sizes, so compare the dollar store size and price with your local grocery store before deciding if it’s truly not worth it!)

3. Toilet paper (Not worth it!)

Sometimes it feels like a raw deal to have to pay for something as basic as toilet paper: something everyone needs yet everyone immediately throws away. Another case similar to the deceit of branded items, cheap toilet paper may seem like a “deal,” (note the quotes,) but the quality doesn’t come through. (But your hand might!) The thin tissue will only warrant needing to double or triple your use, and it is typically found in a single rolls or a max of a four pack. Low ply, low sheet count, and not the softest, you’ll only want to turn to this kind of personal paper in a pinch. In the end, it’s the same matter of paying less per roll in a bulk pack from a grocery store than buying it one lower-quality roll at a time.

2. Batteries (Not worth it!)

Batteries are one of those expensive things you just have to bite the bullet and buy a reputable and reliable brand of. It may seem like a steal to get a pack of batteries for wayyy less than top brands out there–but they are top brands for a reason after all. Dollar store batteries are usually found to be not anywhere near as powerful or long lasting as other brands, so you may end up spending more in the long run for new batteries over and over again instead of spending a bit more for higher-quality, much longer lasting batteries. It may hurt your wallet to spring for a big expensive pack of name brand batteries, but will certainly benefit you in the long run. Dollar store batteries are fine to grab for when you’re in a pinch at best, but won’t make that dollar you spent on them last as long.

1. Some medicines, health, and cosmetic items (Not worth it!)

One should always be wary when they seek cheaper products that will go on your skin, near your eyes or mouth, and especially in your body. Pay attention to ingredients and potential allergens when browsing beauty and health aisles. It’s hard to say if certain brands are reputable since they are not common and they may have less information available about the company or products. A lot of the population also can have some sensitivity to certain ingredients in cheaper makeup, and it may irritate your eyes or face. Just always practice common sense and take precautions, like testing any unknown or mysterious-branded cosmetics and soaps on your arm before using. There are also many well-known medicine brands often available, however it’s typically yet another case of very small quantity for the price. All in all, just keep a smart head, an open mind, and remember what is, and what’s not, worth getting from dollar stores.

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