I used to avoid dollar stores because they didn’t really seem like a bargain the first few times I shopped at them. About a year or so ago, I started shopping at them again, regularly, and have learned a few things. Here in San Diego, we have several different varieties of dollar stores; a couple of them are major chain stores. I have been to several different ones and seen what they have to offer. They can actually save you good money if you know what to shop for. Here are a few tips.
Each dollar store is different: Though there is consistency among the chain stores, each store has items that are only available at that store. Therefore, if you shop at one store for certain items and go to another store, those items may not be available.
Items change often: New items often arrive with each delivery. Popular items clear out fast. Delivery times vary from store to store, but most have deliveries two or three times a week, usually on a weekday.
Best bargains: The best bargains at dollar stores are usually items such as brand name cereal, bread, drinks, snacks, and the like. Some stores even have items such as lunch meat, eggs, and produce. Also, stationary and seasonal items are great bargains. Utensils, measuring cups, wrapping paper and cards are other good picks.
Good bargains: Some items, such as off-brand snacks and cereals are generally good bargains. However, one thing I’ve found with off-brand cereal is that they over-estimate the number of servings per package. I’ve measured each cereal carefully by both weight and measuring cups and none of them seem to have the serving numbers listed on the package. However, they are still a good bargain at a dollar each. Off-brand laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toiletries can be hit and miss quality-wise, but are generally pretty good.
Shop elsewhere for: Shop elsewhere for dishes, paper towel, cans of tuna fish and frozen chicken. Most of these can be found at a lower price at other stores. I’ve bought several packages of frozen chicken and have found most of them didn’t taste good. Dishes are sold individually and if you need to buy a lot of them, it can cost you more than getting a complete set at another store. And, tuna is much cheaper at most other stores. Plastic wrap and bags don’t seal as well as those bought at other stores. Stay away from electrical items and batteries.
Overall, shopping at the dollar store can save you money if you know your prices. Other issues to take into consideration are that if you are high on customer service, don’t expect much from these stores. I’ve found most employees helpful, but have had issues with a few. Some stores may, also, be cleaner than others. Be sure to check expiration dates, as well. At times, it can be busy with long lines at checkout, especially around lunch. The best time to shop at these stores is before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m.