Dollar stores have replaced what us old-timers used to call “The Five and Dime” stores where the merchandise was priced so cheaply that it seemed like robbery. It was at places like Woolworth’s, the Merc, and Kings where those of us on a tight budget could really save money.
Now that we are entering our second year of what is indeed an economic depression, the Dollar Store should be one of your regular shopping stops for bargain priced goods and merchandise. While some of the merchandise is either total junk or packaged in smaller quantities for the dollar market, there are some real bargains to be found for the smart shopper.
Here are my picks of 15 great items that you should buy from the Dollar Store instead of spending your hard earned cash paying more elsewhere.
1. VO5 or Breck shampoos and conditioners: Back in the days before there were zillions of hair products available, moms used to buy VO5 and Breck products for their families. VO5 and Breck still line the shelves at your supermarket where they are priced higher than at the dollar store.
2. Barbasol Shave Cream: Dollar stores carry the 15 oz size of Barbasol shaving cream for both men and women at $1 a can. By comparison, your local grocery store carries the 11 ounce size for $1.38.
3. Hair bands: My daughter had been buying her hair bands at Forever 21 for $5 each before discovering that the local dollar store carried a similar product priced at 3 for a $1. What a deal for her!
4. NYC fingernail polish: We’ve discovered that most of the fingernail polish found at dollar stores tends to be of poor quality. However, the NYC brand (which we’ve seen elsewhere for $3) is a fantastic brand and a bargain at $1.
5. Hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is a must have item we keep in our car. Dollar store hand sanitizer works just as well as the name brands, at half the price.
6. Gift bags: Instead of spending $3.99 for a gift bag at your local Hallmark or Carlton card shop, head to the dollar store instead where you’ll find a great assortment of gift bags for much, much less.
7. Greeting cards: Dollar stores also carry a great selection of greeting cards. Since many of the sentiments expressed on the cards can be a bit tacky, I purchase the blanks instead and write my own greeting.
8. Premade gift bows: We were delighted to discover a fantastic selection of bows all affordably priced at $1 each. Compared to the $3-4 we’ve spent in the past for a nice, jumbo ribbon, these are a real bargain indeed.
9. Vinyl Tablecloths: For a one time use, nothing beats a dollar store tablecloth for a barbecue, birthday party, or neighborhood meetings. While these tend to be super thin, they can be reused if you take care of them.
10. Mop bucket with corded handle: I picked up one of these 2 gallon buckets for beach combing a few months ago, and it ended up being one of the most useful buckets I’ve ever owned. The bucket is so sturdy that I’ve been using to carry 10 pounds worth of cobblestones at a time in my garden.
11. Crepe party streamers: Normally priced at $1-$1.50 a roll at a discount department stores, Dollar stores package these low cost decorations at 2 for a $1.
12. Inking stamps: For scrapbooking or personalizing a greeting card, Dollar stores sell fantastic stamps bargain priced for a $1.
13. Flip Flops: While these aren’t as well made as the flip flops you’ll find at discount department stores, these are a great solution for an inexpensive beach shoes to take along on a summer vacation. At a $1 a pair, you won’t be quite so upset when the kids lose them, as they always seem to do.
14. Plastic juice pitchers: Yes, it’s not Tupperware, but those plastic juice pitchers still work for mixing up batches of Koolaid or juice concentrates. The best time to buy them is in the spring, when they are usually paired up with a 4 pack of plastic tumblers.
15. Laundry baskets: Bushel sized laundry baskets have so many uses beyond holding clothes. I use them to hold my paper recycling, gather up vegetables in the garden, and even for weeding.