If you never shop at the dollar store because you think it’s just a collection of cheap stuff, you’re missing a great opportunity to save money. Discount stores that sell things for just a buck are my go-to spot for a variety of items.
Of course, there are products you should avoid at the dollar store because the quality can be inferior or you can actually find them for less at other retailers. But the quality of many of the items you can find at national dollar store chains is on par with what you’d find at other stores — at much lower prices. Here’s are 10 things I buy at the dollar store because I can get them there for less.
Gift bags and gift wrap: You’ll spend several dollars for a roll of gift wrap at the supermarket or big-box retailer, such as Target. And gift bags typically cost $2 or $3 and up. But there’s no need to spend much on these items that likely will be tossed by the recipient. I get all of my gift bags at the dollar store for $1. Smaller bags often come in packs of two or three. Even large bags that cost several dollars — even at Walmart — only cost a buck at the dollar store. Although gift wrap at the dollar store is thinner than what you’d get for higher-priced options, it still does the trick.
Seasonal items. Need hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day or flags for the Fourth of July? The dollar store is your place. Whether you’re looking for inexpensive seasonal decor for a classroom, a party or your house, you can find it for a bargain at a dollar store. For an Easter egg hunt, I recently bought packs of 18 plastic eggs for $1 each at Dollar Tree. Packs with fewer eggs at the supermarket $2 to $3 more.
Party favors. The dollar store is a great source of inexpensive party favors for young children (and you can put them in the inexpensive gift bags you get there, too). I wouldn’t get plastic toys that might quickly fall apart. But you can find bubbles, silly string, balls and plenty of other items little kids would like. For my son’s construction-themed birthday party, I found chocolates shaped like dump trucks and cement mixers.
Party supplies. I always get paper plates and napkins for my kids’ birthday parties at the dollar store. You can find a variety of colors and designs suitable for a variety of occasions. And for $1 per package of plates, napkins or utensils, you’ll pay at least 50 percent less than what you’d pay at the grocery for the same number of supplies — or fewer. You also can get streamers, plastic tablecloths and mylar balloons for a buck.
Personal grooming items. You can occasionally get personal grooming items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and soap for $1 or so at the grocery if you wait for sales or coupons. But you can get these items — as well as brushes, shampoo and more — for $1 at all times at the dollar store. And, yes, you can get brand-name products for $1.
Storage containers. If you need plastic storage containers, you can find them at the dollar store. You likely won’t find containers for $1 that are large enough for storing clothes in the off-season, but you will find small and mid-size containers you can use to help keep cabinets and closets organized. And you’ll find a variety of sizes for food storage.
Cleaning supplies. You can stock up on cleaning supplies at the dollar store for less than at the grocery store or big-box retailer. For example, you can get a two-pack of sponges for a dollar, while just one sponge costs a dollar and change at the grocery. You also can find brand-name dish soap, detergent and other cleaners for $1.
Picture frames. For basic frames, head to the dollar store to get them for just $1. These can be an inexpensive gift for grandparents or other relatives when you fill them with pictures of your kids.
Decorative items. You can find basic glass vases, candle holders and votives at the dollar store. These can be an inexpensive way to decorate for a party — or everyday. I recently found a black ceramic flower pot (pictured — plant not included) at the dollar store that would’ve cost five times as much or more at a garden center.
Scented candles. You can get packages of basic candles or tea candles at the grocery or craft supply store for about the same price you’d pay at the dollar store. But if you want inexpensive scented candles, head to the dollar store. You’ll pay just $1 for a large scented candle at the dollar store versus several dollars for one at the grocery or big-box retailer.