Cole’s Dollar Store Buying Guide

Date Thu, November 28 2013

I love a good trip to the dollar store. It’s nice to save money. It’s also handy to know exactly how much you’re spending. You can find some stellar deals at the dollar store, but some things just are too good to be true. My experience as a dollar store shopper has led me to the following revelations.

Do buy: Q-tips.

I was pleasantly surprise to see that Dollar Tree has generic versions of the “precision” Q-tips for just a dollar. The regular ones are okay, too.

Stay away from: Cotton rounds/squares. They’re super low quality from dollar stores. They get all fuzzy and don’t work for removing nail polish in the least. In fact, cotton rounds are one product that is really hit or miss across the board.

Gift boxes make a statement

Gift boxes make a statement

Do  buy: Party Supplies

Dollar stores are a great place for cards, invites, streamers, ribbons, cheap paper and plastic goods and table cloths. Cheap vases and “fill” (stones and beads) make for easy party decor, too. Wrapping paper and gift boxes are also a steal at your local dollar store. However, brown paper and bubble wrap might not be as good of a deal if you need a lot. It’s better to buy in bulk sometims.

Stay away from: Toys. Everything in a dollar store’s toy aisle is just junk. No one wants it as a gift, a door prize or even a party favor.

Do buy: Picture frames and candle holders

You can paint frames

You can paint frames

A lot of DIY projects on Pinterest start with these two things. For example, I bought a couple glass taper holders and glued them to round bowls to create “candy bowls.” You can also easily paint the frames from the dollar store if you don’t like the color they’re in. Glue on a few details and it’ll look amazing. At $1, you won’t feel so bad if your project doesn’t turn out.

Stay away from: Actual candles. Anything that’s scented and comes from the dollar store tends to be a disappointment. Votives, tealights, air fresheners and sprays all fall into this category unfortunately.

Do buy: Condoms

This one might take you by surprise, but you an purchase condoms in bulks at Dollar General. If this is your main form of birth control, stock up! It’s also awesome if you’re throwing a Halloween party and have an adult pinata full of candy and condoms. However.

Dollar General sells condoms in bulk

Dollar General sells condoms in bulk

Stay away from: Pregnancy tests (like a whole lot more room for user error than with a nice EPT test. When they work, it’s okay, but I’d rather just be able to pee on the stick.

Do buy: Batteries for non-essential things

Whenever I need watch batteries for little decorations and LED candles, I head to the dollar store. I use up the batteries by the end of the season, and it’s all good. However, you probably don’t want to power your important things with batteries from the dollar store, and they can be more prone to leakage. If it’s an item you plan to keep batteries in for a while, spent more.

Stay away from: Electronics. Some people warn that cheap electronics don’t have the UL ratings to be safe. You’re definitely better safe than sorry when it comes to electricity! This includes extension cords and power strips. Although headphones don’t have the same issues with electricity, I’ve personally used them and the sound is just awful!

Do buy: Cleaning supplies

I’m talking about cloths, brushes, scrubbers and the like, especially if they’re things that need frequent replacing. I’m iffy on dollar store sponges, but it’s cheaper to buy their dish wands than pay for name-brand ones. Rubber gloves for cleaning are also a deal at the local Dollar Tree.

Stay away from: Cleaning chemicals. In general, they all consist of a lot of water. Unless you’re looking at Family Dollar, which carries some name brands, you’re better off looking for a sale at Target. The one exception is the off-brand magic erases. If you find those work, stock up!

Sally Hanses at Family Dollar

Sally Hanses at Family Dollar

Do buy: Name brand makeup

This one’s  toss up. I did a quick comparison for name brand mascara at Dollar General and Walmart, and DG was more expensive by far. Don’t let the even dollar prices fool you. However, Family Dollar carries some Sally Hansen nail polish for just $2, and you’ll find LA Colors and ELF products at Dollar Tree. Both those brands tend to be inexpensive to begin with,

Stay away from: Toothpaste, vitamins and medicine, lotion

When it comes to toothpaste, the tube are tiny and the savings just aren’t there. Labels may be wrong for vitamins and medicine, too! Cheap lotion just slides around your skin and doesn’t do a bit of moisturizing.

Of course, some stores sell name brand items that are exactly the same as what you’d find elsewhere. A quick search shows that most people don’t like the quality of paper goods like toilet paper from the dollar store, and I’d have to agree.

What do you like to buy from dollar stores? What do you refuse to buy?

2 Responses

  1. Mika November 28 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    This is a great guide! I’m always trying to figure out what the actual good deals are beyond food are for dollar stores! I’m definitely bookmarking/pinning this entry!

  2. Cole November 28 2013 @ 7:54 pm

    Thanks! I do a lot of dollar store shopping so I love guides like these.

One Ping

  1. 4 Rules for Buying Generic | Reviews by Cole July 8 2014 @ 8:45 am

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