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For a long time, dollar stores marketed themselves to lower-income families as a way to save money. However, in recent years dollar stores have become a popular place for consumers of all income brackets. With the recession, dollar stores experienced an increase in volume as people tried to find bargains and ways to save money on everyday purchases. I am no exception, but I knew the value of dollar stores long before the recession.
When my husband and I were first married and barely able to pay rent, I began shopping at the dollar store. When things got better, I continued to shop at the dollar store because it allowed us to save money. When the recession took its toll on our income, the dollar store continued to save us money each month.
Now that dollar stores have gone through some significant changes (they carry name brand products, frozen foods, perishable foods, higher dollar merchandise, etc.), I have had to learn a few new tricks about shopping at the dollar store.
Always check expiration dates - This has always been true. The stores get merchandise that is nearing the end of its "use by date" and pass along the savings to you. However, sometimes you may find items that have passed their use-by date, so check carefully before placing items in your buggy.
Know competitor's prices - I have found items in the dollar store that cost more than the same item at the grocery store. Therefore, I keep a list of the average price of items I buy on a regular basis to make sure I am getting a bargain at the dollar store. I also check the current ads to make sure those items are not on sale that week at my grocery store.
Be cautious of generic cleaners - Unfortunately, over the years I have not had as much luck with generic cleaning products at the dollar store. I have to use twice the amount I would if using a name-brand product, which negates the savings. Now that most dollar stores are carrying name brands, I can save money on my cleaning supplies and still purchase name brands that I know and trust.
Use coupons - Do not forget that dollar stores honor manufacturer's coupons just as other retailers do. Combining your coupons with low prices at the dollar store on necessary household items such as paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo, etc. nets a big savings over other stores.
Look for health and beauty products - Dollar stores are updating their inventory with popular health and beauty aids at lower prices than drugstores. Use manufacturer's coupons for great savings but make sure to check the use-by date before you buy.Do not forget about the other items in the store - Dollar stores are now carrying better clothing and household items than before, so check the prices before purchasing items at a larger retailer. You can often save money on socks, underwear and kid's clothing. Pet supplies, kitchen items and garden tools are also great buys at the dollar store.
My friend complained that she hated shopping at the dollar store because it was not "pretty." I fail to see how that could matter if you were saving money but I guess the owners of dollar stores were listening to people like her. Most dollar stores are now well-lit, with wider, better organized isles. The facelift has attracted more consumers who are looking for better bargains and like the convenience offered by dollars stores.
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