Dollar Stores: What to Buy & What to Avoid


Dollar stores are a great resource for shoppers on a budget — most of the time. There are a number of great deals to be found on items that are on par quality-wise with regular stores, but there are also some products that really aren’t worth the risk. Moreover, sometimes the prices at dollar stores aren’t even cheaper than at your local supermarket!

Do you have any tips and tricks about navigating the dollar store? Let us know in the comments section!

Click through for tips on what to buy and what tosteer clear of at the dollar store.

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What to Buy

Cleaning Supplies The fact of the matter is, dollar store cleaning supplies are generally the same quality as at the grocery store, but with a way cheaper price tag.

Shampoo The same goes for shampoo as goes for cleaning supplies. In general, price doesn’t affect quality.

Paper products Paper towels and napkins are usually cheaper at the dollar store. One caveat, however — sometimes the cost per unit can be cheaper at the grocery store, particularly when the product is on sale. Do a little research before switching to dollar store paper products.

Greeting Cards and Wrapping Paper If you’re not as concerned about the quality of the paper stock, gift wrap and greeting cards are a steal.

Socks Why bother paying more for socks when you’re bound to lose one or both? Skip the department store socks and stock up at the dollar store!

Coloring Books Because paper quality isn’t as much of an issue here, you can find coloring books for a few dollars off.


What Not to Buy

Food Without an Expiration Date Don’t ever buy food without an expiration date, particularly from the dollar store — you don’t know where it’s coming from, and how long it’s been sitting on the shelf.

Vitamins & Medicine Same principle applies here. In addition, vitamins may not have as many nutrients as advertised; medicines may not list where they were manufactured. Pass!

Pens & Pencils The poor quality of dollar store pens and pencils makes them totally not worth it. Wait until the Back to School stuff goes on sale to score great deals on pens, pencils, and other school supplies!

Toys They’re made cheaply and sometimes have questionable materials, so you’ll want to steer clear of dollar store toys.

Aluminum Foil If you’ve ever used cheap tin foil, you’ll know that it’s totally not worth the savings. It’s far too thin and tears way too easily.

Batteries Run away from cheap dollar store batteries. They’re usually not made with lithium, and thus won’t last as long. Not. Worth. It!

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Tammy Baxter
Tammy B4 years ago

thank you

Barb Mann
Barb Mann5 years ago

Thanks for the info! Will definately keep it in mind the next time I'm at the Dollar Store!

Jude Hand
Judith Hand5 years ago

Good to know. I've a friend who loves! the dollar store. Nice to know what things may be wise to avoid purchasing there.

Julie H.
Julie Hoffman5 years ago


Joan S.
JC S5 years ago

Agree about discretion at the dollar store but am so grateful for a lot of what they sell.

Penny C.
penny C5 years ago

Buy a lot of stuff in dollar store only exceptions kids toys from china because of the warnings of lead paint.Same with food stuffs as well & cosmetics.But paper products,Bd cards,ect I buy.Save me a lot of money.

Carole F.
Carole f5 years ago

dollar stores can be a teacher's best friend! as with everything one buys, a shopper must be diligent and selective.
there are name brand items in my store along with some i have gotten to trust over time. some items are not well made or can be bought at a grocery/wholesale store much cheaper if you check the unit pricing. we buy our magnifing glasses, or "cheaters" as my husband calls them, because i want a pair in every room! bags of candy turn over quickly and are a good buy, as are wine glases to personalize and paint, gift bags, and one-time use pool party items. i also have always been lucky with the batteries.
avoid most cosmetics, pet items, baggies of all sizes,some cleaning products (watered down), and some plastic products that are very cheaply made.
some items are just a matter of personal choice; such as toiletries.

just about everyone i know has a budget and shop where they can to live within their means, especially when on a fixed income. no one should crticize their choices until they understand the situation others may be facing on a daily basis. actually, some of those i know who are quite well-off shop at $ stores because they like to save money too!
thanks for article

paul m.
paul m5 years ago

We in Ireland call them Euro shops, I love them, like a kid in a sweetshop..

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

Dollars store aren't bad for many things, no reason for people to get snarky

Marianne Barto
Marianne B5 years ago

I also buy here. Cleaning supplies, shampoos, but not edible items, although I see families buying can goods, cereal, frozen foods,snacks, cookies, etc. The family in front of me at the checkout spent over $50. To each his own.....Live and let live!