Dollar Store Rip-Offs

Dollar Store Rip-Offs

Whenever the subjects of shopping or the household come up when I'm talking to a neighbor, she almost always will offer up a variation of this advice: "The dollar store is the best place to get ." While I'm all for saving money and getting things my household needs and uses at a good price, I'm not totally sold on the idea that the dollar store (the DS) is the be-all, end-all of great deals. Sure, everything costs one buck. But does that mean it's really providing you the best bang for said buck?

The Q's Have It

The "Q's" I'm talking about here are quantity and quality, and you'll need to consider both when deciding on if the dollar spent at the DS for a product is really saving you money in the long run.

First, quantity refers to the price per something – ounce, unit, piece, etc. To know if something is a good deal anywhere, you have to know how much "price per" you're paying. For example, say the DS has an eight ounce bottle of brand name cleaner for $1. Great deal, right? Well, say the local grocery store has the same product at $2 for a twenty ounce bottle. While $1 will always be less than $2, eight ounces will always be less than twenty ounces. The DS price per ounce is roughly $0.12 while the grocery store buy weighs in at a dime per ounce. Another way to look at it is that you can spend $2 at the DS and get a total of sixteen ounces – still not as many as the grocery store twenty ounce bottle for the same price.

Next, consider the quality of the product you're investing in at the DS. Now, I'm not knocking generic brands; many of them are of decent quality and will get the job done. But, you have to admit, sometimes you do get what you pay for. Sticking with the cleaning theme, you have to make sure the same amount of the DS brand of cleaner (and maybe it's a great deal at 32 ounces for one buck) will do the same job as as the same amount of a brand known for their quality. When it comes down to it, your savings are washed away if you have to use double or triple the amount of the DS cleaner.

So What Is a Good Deal There?

It might seem like I'm making a case to stay away from the DS; I'm not. I find there are some things there that are pretty good deals: stocking stuffers, small gifts for kiddos to perk up a rainy/snowy day, goodies for long car trips, party (birthday, shower, etc.) essentials, disposable paper products, seasonal decorations.

I'm also not saying the DS is like the plague and should, at all costs, be avoided. I shop there from time to time. And you know, if the budget's just extremely tight and you really need X product now, it can help you fulfill a need at a reasonable price.

How about you, MomVesting readers? What items can you find for the best deals at the dollar store? What items should be purchased elsewhere?

femmefrugalitly's picture

femmefrugalitly wrote:

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 17:12 Comment #: 1

There's some things I'd buy there. Like holiday decorations. Or even plastic flatware. One time I got these cute ice cream cone shaped ice cream bowls there. $1 each. Great. But I'd never buy food there. I knew one girl who bought all her pregnancy tests at the DS when she and her husband were TTC. That's another thing I wouldn't do. I guess all things that have to do with my body I'd stay away from. And making sure that getting the item for $1 is actually a good deal, like you say.