Dollar Store near Me – What To Buy?

A friend asked me to poll my Pilates classmates how she could afford two graduation parties. The unanimous answer was “the dollar store.” This ubiquitous store sells everything from ketchup and charcoal grills and attracts people of all income levels.

Diane McCrohan is associate professor in Johnson & Wales University’s College of Business. She says that chains such as Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, 99 Cents Only Stores, Five Below, and Dollar General have grown into large corporations with tremendous buying power.

Previously, dollar stores were seen as dumping grounds of liquidated and off-brand merchandise. Today, they often purchase their inventory from major manufacturers like Procter & Gamble and Hanes, Unilever and Coca-Cola.

McCrohan adds, “I’m impressed by the dollar store close to me in East Greenwich ( Rhode Island).” McCrohan says that the store is up-to-date, relevant and has excellent visual merchandising. They can be trusted to sell their products.”

But are you allowed to? Critics argue that dollar stores can be detrimental to communities, particularly in areas with limited retail options. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance says that dollar stores can have a negative impact on grocery stores and often reduce access to fresh food. This is because very few stores sell fresh produce, and many only offer processed foods. Tulsa, for example, has placed restrictions on the opening of new stores.

Remember that dollar stores won’t always have the lowest prices. “In general, dollar stores provide great value,” says Meaghan Brophy, a senior retail analyst who follows dollar-store trends for “But, as many items are custom made in smaller sizes by manufacturers to fit dollar stores, shoppers should compare the price with weight, length, and size.”

The aluminum foil box might look the same as those found on grocery store shelves, but it may be 18 square feet rather than 55. A $1 can of green beans might sell for as low as 88 cents in the local supermarket.

Pricing is another variable. All items are still $1 at Dollar Tree, 99cs at 99 Cents Only. Prices can vary at other places. Dollar General recently advertised a 80 cent Gatorade bottle and a $14 charcoal barbecue. You’ll also find independent dollar stores that stock closeout merchandise bought from liquidators and other sources.

Janet Alvarez is the executive editor at Wise Bread. Wise Bread is a personal finance website. She points out that your local grocery store may offer better deals with loyalty programs, coupons, and sales. She says that while Dollar stores can be a convenient way to shop, it is worth taking the time to compare prices and finding the best deal.

Yes. Although I love dollar stores and frequent them, I make sure to have a list of items and a budget in mind when I go. This helps to curb impulse purchases. To ensure I get the best value for my money, I always pay attention to product sizes, even if it means I have to use my calculator. These are the aisles you can browse (and avoid) in your favorite dollar store.

Best Buys

Paper goods. Paper goods include gift wrap, greeting cards, gift wrap and tablecloths. Brophy states that while the quality might not be as good, it isn’t noticeable and likely won’t make a difference for disposable items, which are thrown away after just one use. Recently, I discovered that my local Dollar Tree was selling Hallmark greeting cards for just $1. I won’t pay $3.99 for a giftbag when I can get three for $1.

Plastic products. For a picnic or party, stock up on disposable plates, cups, utensils, and other items that are only used once. Alvarez loves hair clips and barrette. Plastic containers are great for organizing and storing items. You should be aware that plastic containers with a lower price might not be as strong. It may not be important if you store paper clips or hardware.

Travel-size toiletries. Name brand travel-size toiletries such as toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo that you can take in your luggage are usually cheaper than those sold at major retailers or drugstores.

Eyeglasses. Every time my dad flies in from Houston, we have to head to a dollar store for a pair of sunglasses, as his are still sitting on his car’s dashboard at the airport parking lot. Make sure that any sunglasses you purchase provide UV protection. They may not be the best choice for long-term use, but they are fine in an emergency. For those who misplace their reading glasses all the time, it’s not so bad to get a few spares from a dollar store.

. You can find picture frames, crafts supplies, and glassware. Brophy said that he still uses a flower vase he bought at a dollar shop 10 years ago.

Pregnancy test. Surprise! McCrohan says that home pregnancy tests are a top seller at dollar stores. Home pregnancy tests are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you purchase one at a dollar store that is well-respected, you can be sure it’s legal. While more expensive kits may be quicker or easier to use, they will still do the job.


Toys. This is the one instance when “cheap” may really mean “cheap”. Many toys sold at dollar stores don’t have branded names. They can break easily and may contain small parts that could pose a danger to your health. Recalls may not be notified to all dollar stores. While coloring books and cardboard puzzles can be fine, you don’t want your children to experience meltdowns after their yoyos get tangled up after three spins.

Anything with a plug. Buying off-brand electronics can pose a risk because their supply chains may not be as reliable as those sold at other retailers. You could be damaged by cheap chargers and power strips.

Battery-operated items. Batteries are not recommended unless the packaging bears a brand name. They could be old and/or prone to leaking.

Sunscreen. Don’t get burned twice. Keep it on the shelf if expiration dates are not too long. Sunscreen ingredients have an expiration date. While it won’t hurt you, it might not be as effective.

Pet food. Toys and water bowls are acceptable, but experts agree that pet food should be avoided. Pet food could be near its expiration date, made off-label, or offshore.

Beauty and health products. Be extra careful if you plan to ingest or apply it to your skin. To keep costs down, off-brand products might contain more harsh ingredients or be watered-down (e.g. shampoo and conditioner). To ensure that you get a bargain, make sure to check expiration dates and price per ounce.


A 3.5-ounce frozen ribeye of 3.5 ounces is a great deal, but $1 per ribeye should be a good price.

We purchased a Dollar Tree steak that was sliced thinly and seasoned with as much as 30% solution. One Youtube food critic compared the texture and taste to Steak-umm. This is a frozen, thin-sliced, molded beef product that was used in many childhood sandwiches. We’ll get by.

School Supplies

Although the dollar-or less lure may be appealing when you are looking to stock up on school supplies, quality seemed low in some of the products that I examined and touched at Dollar Tree. Julie Ramhold, DealNews consumer analyst, concurs.

Ramhold says that mechanical pencils can have poor quality and break frequently, that don’t have enough ink, that won’t write well, or regular pencils that aren’t sharpened.

She says that bulk packs at warehouse stores are better than buying school supplies. These will often include name-brand tools in larger packages. I can confirm that a box filled with Ticonderoga pencils purchased from a warehouse shop got me through at most three years of college.

By Cary Grant

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