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6 Bargains to Look for at the Dollar Store​

Stocking up on these products at Dollar General, Dollar Tree or Family Dollar can save you money 


spinner image a blue and orange image featuring typical dollar store items including a sponge, a balloon and a gift bag
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Dollar stores may have gotten a bum rap in years past, but with inflation still elevated, they’re attracting many frugal shoppers looking to get a lot of bang for their buck.

“Throughout all the dollar stores, there are some categories that are definitely worth it,” says Trae Bodge, a shopping expert at TrueTrae.com. “People may not know it, but there are also ways to save even more at dollar stores.” 

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At Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar General (the three biggest dollar store chains in the U.S.), weekly circulars and coupons offer shoppers extra savings in-store, online and through the stores’ mobile apps.

If you’re shopping in-store, it’s a good idea to go with a list, which will help you avoid making impulse buys on deeply discounted but unnecessary items. “Make sure you’re asking yourself: If you put it in your basket, are you getting a good deal or are you just buying it because it’s cheap,” says Samantha Landau, consumer expert at TopCashback.com. You should also be discerning about what you choose to buy. A purchase isn’t a deal if the quality is questionable or the count is low. 

It’s also important to compare prices elsewhere before checking out a dollar store. You may think you are getting the best price, but there could be similar sales at non-dollar stores. “Retailers are fighting for your foot traffic, and will sometimes drop better promotions than what we see at dollar stores,” says Joanie Demer, cofounder and co-CEO at The Krazy Coupon Lady. “And don’t count out the big box stores either. Target just launched a new dollar store budget brand called Dealworthy that will include 400 items (think clothes, beauty products, toothbrushes, dish soap) with prices starting at less than $1. 

A 300-count package of cotton swabs at Walmart costs 98 cents, which beats Target’s price by a penny and Dollar General’s by two for a comparable product. “The bottom line? Cost-compare as much as possible,” says Demer.

When it comes to dollar stores, there are categories where the savings are usually worth it. Shopping experts put these six at the top of the list.

1. Party supplies

Whether you need balloons, decorative bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper or streamers, stocking up on party supplies that are use-it-once-and-toss-it items can be a great way to save. “There’s a whole wall of party supplies, organized by color,” at dollar stores, says Landau. Take helium balloons, for example. A pack of uninflated latex balloons at Dollar General will set you back a dollar. At Party City, a single uninflated balloon is 60 cents.

Be mindful of the count and yardage for party supplies. “If the wrapping paper roll looks really thin, it probably is,” says Bodge. “Yes, it’s $1, but you can wrap two gifts.” It’s not a deal if it doesn’t last you long, she says. 

2. Office supplies

From envelopes to notebooks, dollar stores are great places to stock up on office supplies. Sure, the paper may be thinner, but if you are using it to journal or jot down notes, it doesn’t matter, says Bodge. “You don’t want to pay a lot for things like business-size envelopes,” she says. If it’s a name-brand office supply, even better. How much can you save? A 40-count box of Mead Security envelopes cost $1.25 at Dollar Tree. At Staples, it goes for $2.46.​

3. Reading glasses

These much-needed staples can be costly as you age, especially if you are prone to losing or breaking them. Purchasing them from a dollar store is a great way to save. Reading glasses cost $1.50 at Dollar Tree. At CVS, reading glasses start at $14.99.

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4. Greeting cards

Loyal dollar store shoppers know that deals abound when it comes to greeting cards. Sure, the selection of seasonal, birthday or get-well-soon cards may not be as robust as at a Hallmark store, but the cards won’t set you back several dollars. “You see a lot of greeting cards at Hallmark, Target and Walmart that are at least $5,” says Landau. “Instead of splurging on a card, hit the dollar store and use that money toward the gift.” Greeting cards at Family Dollar range from $1 to $2. At Target, greeting cards start at $3.99.​

5. Travel-sized toiletries

Dollar stores have been stepping up their inventory of name-brand items, particularly when it comes to travel-sized toiletries, says Landau. Shoppers can stock up on name-brand deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash and other necessities without overspending. For instance, Dollar Tree sells travel-sized Crest toothpaste, Old Spice deodorant and Barbasol Original shaving cream for $1.25.​

6. Cleaning supplies

Sponges, dishrags, spray bottles and plungers sold at dollar stores may not last as long as higher-priced versions, but they can be a bargain if you are going to toss them frequently. Bodge recommends staying away from disinfectants and cleaning sprays unless they’re brand names, because it’s hard to know their shelf life and what ingredients they contain. The good news is that many of the dollar stores sell brand-name cleaning items, though they cost more than $1. For example, at Family Dollar, you can get a 22-ounce container of Lysol Power Bathroom Cleaner for $2.

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