For decades, dollar stores have been winning over American consumers with their ultra-low pricing. These bargain bin loaded hubs may not look the nicest, but they typically live up to their name: the stuff is cheap — sometimes cheaper than what makes sense considering how much other retailers may charge for the same type of products.
Cheapness can come at a cost, though. There are certain items that, no matter how heavily marked down, are simply not worth it. For example, fresh foods and produce sold at the Dollar Store are almost definitely a no-no because they may be not so fresh. Consumers should also be wary of over-the-counter medicines at dollar stores because they could be expired, or as the FDA has found with Dollar Tree OTC medications, “potentially unsafe.”
So, what items sold at dollar stores are always best buys? And how much do you stand to save shopping there instead of at traditional retailers like Walmart and Target? Let’s explore.
“It never fails to amaze me how expensive greeting cards can get at some stores — as much as $6 or more in some cases,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “Instead of shelling out a ton of cash for a card that your recipient will most likely read one time and then toss in the trash, opt for one that’ll cost you around $1.”
Gift Bags and Tissue Paper
“While I don’t recommend purchasing wrapping paper from the dollar store, as it tends to rip way too easily in my experience, gift bags and tissue paper are safer bets,” Ramhold said. “The tissue paper is most often used to hide gifts in bags anyway, and as long as you treat the bag well, they should hold up just fine for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay at other stores.”
Take Our Poll: Do You Think You Will Be Able To Retire at Age 65?
“If you enjoy having fresh flowers around on a regular basis, purchasing vases from the dollar store is an excellent way to mix up the look without spending a fortune on containers,” Ramhold said. “And if one happens to get broken, you can rest easy knowing you spent $1.25 or so on the vase, rather than a much more substantial amount.”
“Whether you’re a college student needing to bulk up your drinkware collection or you just need a few specialty glasses, the dollar store is a great place to shop,” Ramhold said. “Plastic glasses are available, but also old-fashioned, daiquiri, rocks, Irish coffee, margarita, brandy, wine, champagne and even dessert shot glasses. You can also find standard water goblets and thick-bottomed glasses as well, plus beer mugs and pilsners.”
“This is another item that can really add up if you shop elsewhere, but you can purchase decent frames that are perfect for gifts or your own displays at the dollar store for less,” Ramhold said. “You can find ones that have a more distinctive look, such as a gold glitter frame, but there are also plenty of options for just plain black, white and wooden frames for a simpler look.”
Phone Charger Cables
“Phone cables are always up for sale at dollar stores and while they might not last as long as one you purchase from an Apple store, they’ll likely be 20 times less than the official high-street price,” said Jenna Carson, financial partner at MoneyLucid.com. “These are perfect for times you’ve forgotten a charger or left it in the office and you need a quick fix solution that doesn’t cost you a crazy price.”
“Tupperware or food container boxes are a great dollar store item,” Carson said. “Usually when they are found at the likes of Walmart or Target there is such a small selection that the prices are ramped up. I’ve seen them for $6 a box. A food container always does what it says on the tin and there’s no reason not to gather these up from a dollar store. They tend to come in all shapes and sizes, too.”
Helium Mylar Balloons
“Helium mylar balloons are perfect for birthdays and are $1 at the dollar store compared to $3.99 at Target,” said Choe. “They also come prefilled with helium.”
“Coffee filters cost three to five times their dollar store price at Target or Walmart,” said Nunzio Ross, founder and CEO at Majesty Coffee. “Both bleached and unbleached coffee filters cost way less at a dollar store.”
“Powdered carpet cleaners at dollar stores are always less expensive than at other retailers,” said Martin Boonzaayer, CEO of The Trusted Home Buyer. “The closest cost to the dollar store is $2.50 at Lowes.”
“Pine-Sol is one of the best all-purpose cleaners on the market, and it can be found at many dollar stores,” Boonzaayer said. “This can cost $2.80 or even over $4 at a retail store.”
“Bleach is almost always so powerful, even the dollar store brand works,” Boonzaayer said. “This can cost almost $5 at a retail store.”
Always Cheaper at Dollar Tree
Along with the above products, Annie Brown, frugal living blogger at Savvy Honey, provided GOBankingRates with a helpful list of items that are always cheaper at dollar stores (specifically Dollar Tree), and gave their alternate, much higher prices at big-box retailers. Take a look.
Mini Dry Erase Board
Cooling Rack for Baking & Cooking
Mini Hand Broom & Dust Pan
Pizza Pan, 12″
Cake Pan, 8″
More From GOBankingRates
All prices are accurate as of Feb. 7, 2022, and are subject to change.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 19 Dollar Store Items That Give You the Best Bang for Your Buck