Discount stores

What to buy (and skip) at discount stores | Expenses

Discount stores are all the rage for budget conscious shoppers. In fact, Dollar General plans to open 975 stores before the end of 2019, which is more physical stores than any other retailer currently anticipates. Chances are you’ve also heard of other popular dollar stores, such as Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Five Below, as well as Aldi, the discount grocery chain.

But while discount stores are known to have inexpensive merchandise and products, they may have a limited inventory selection and may not be of the best quality. And while the prices are low at these stores, often between $ 1 and $ 5, you might not get what you pay for. Plus, you run the risk of being nickel plated and faded. For example, some discount stores offer cash back when you use your debit card, but charge a nominal fee of $ 1 or $ 1.50 for using your debit card.

With that in mind, if you’re considering buying products from discount retailers, experts say here’s what you should buy – and ignore – to stretch your money even further.

What to buy

“Since canned goods could survive the apocalypse, you’re probably okay with buying canned food, as long as it’s a good deal,” says Trae Bodge, shopping expert at and former US contributor. News.

Vivian Young, Los Angeles-based Senior Content Director at, takes her 90-year-old mother on a weekly shopping excursion that includes a visit to a Dollar Tree outpost. “Save your money by buying disposable aluminum baking pans at dollar stores,” Young says. “Expect to pay more than double or even triple at regular supermarkets or big box discount stores for these essentials.”

Young says dollar stores often have cheap but perfectly good reading glasses. “Buy reading glasses in bulk for a dollar each,” she advises, noting they’re ideal if you tend to misplace or break expensive specs. “Plant them in the car, the bedside table, the kitchen drawer and the desk.” She says you can find glasses that typically range from +1.0 to +3.25 diopters. Typically, at a store like Walgreens, reading glasses cost around $ 20, which makes picking specs at a dollar store a good deal if you’re on a tight budget.

Office supplies and party supplies

“Wrapping tape, masking tape, and scotch tape can be a good buy, but take note of the square footage as I have sometimes found the rolls to be smaller than at the office supply store. or big box, ”Bodge explains. In other words, to maximize savings, do some comparison shopping. If the scotch only costs money, you might get a much smaller roll of tape than at another store.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to glue an inexpensive birthday-themed tablecloth onto a table for a kid’s birthday party, it’s a good idea to visit a discount store, says Joy. Hearn, a Los Angeles-based coupon expert who has a Facebook page, CardsandClips, devoted to coupons and gift cards. “If you’re looking to save a lot on party supplies, such as plastic cutlery, then a dollar store should be the first place to go for those items,” she says.

What to jump

Generally, Young advises consumers to be wary of purchasing products from a dollar store. She recommends inspecting fruits and vegetables for things like bruising and discoloration.

“On impulse, I bought two mini watermelons for a dollar. When I opened one at home, the inside looked like a melon from the Chernobyl landfill – spots of white, orange, bright pink and green, ”Young said. Since that experience, Young has chosen to stick to his local farmer’s market to pick up his produce.

Bodge also advises to be wary of other foods. “With perishable and packaged foods, including sweets and drinks, the freshness and quality can be questionable, so I would proceed with caution,” she says.

Kitchen and laundry supplies

The problem with collecting kitchen and laundry supplies is often not the quality, but the quantity. Hearn points out that often dollar stores sell products for such low prices that if you do the math, you’ll find you could do better elsewhere. For example, she says trash bags, even branded ones, are often a bad idea at a discount store.

“Dollar stores will bait you with branded trash bags, but if you look at the fact that you’re paying $ 1 for a pack of two or three bags. It’s not worth it,” she says, adding : “Usually, trash bags are cheap and tear easily too.”

She also says that last year one of the dollar stores started selling a two-pack of Cascade dishwasher pods for $ 1. “The problem with this is that at most mass retailers such as Target or Walmart, a 14 pod pack costs on average between $ 4.50 and $ 5.50. Buying seven packs at the dollar store can mean that you will overpay $ 1.50 to $ 2.50, ”says Hearn.

Batteries or technical supplies

“You get what you pay for. Most of the time the batteries are already dead or don’t last longer than a week,” says Hearn.

Bodge also recommends buying batteries elsewhere, unless it’s a well-known brand, like Energizer or Duracell. Otherwise, she would be wary of putting a possible lower-than-normal battery in, say, a kid’s toy.

For the same reason, Bodge says she would also be worried about buying anything from a dollar store that you attach to electronics. “You’ll find plenty of power cords, headphones, and other tech accessories and the price will be attractive, but it’s unclear if the workmanship of these items is up to par,” she says. “Given that you would plug them into your beloved smartphone or tablet, why give it a try? “

Hearn is not in favor of buying knives at discount stores. “Your chance of getting a good cut from a $ 1 knife is as good as your chances of winning the lottery,” she says. “Like plastic cutlery, they wear out easily and rust quite quickly.”

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