Is there anything as thrilling as finding just the item you need and learning it only costs a dollar? This pleasure seems harder to come by now, as prices at dollar stores are usually more than a buck these days.
Still, lots of items are cheap and useful, especially if you’re willing to forego brand names and fancy packaging.
Americans are flocking to these stores as inflation ravages consumer pocketbooks. Dollar Tree and one of its rivals, Dollar General, reported increased profits in the last quarter and announced their customer base is growing to include higher-income shoppers.
Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar: What’s the difference? I visited select locations of these as well as two 99 Cents stores to see what they are selling, how much it costs, and how prices compare with those of big-box retailers. Sometimes their prices were better; often they were surprisingly more expensive. Here’s what I found.Dollar Tree
This store had almost everything I would need for basic stocking up of my home, except for fresh vegetables. There were frozen foods, including chicken franks, veggie meatballs and my favorite, coffee ice cream (no name brand at all on the container).
Almost everything cost $1.25. I found some greeting cards and neon-colored poster boards for 50 cents each.
You could have a lot of fun here buying a big bag of cheap toys for kids, including coloring books, school supplies, toy cars, toddler bats and stickers. I even found authentic Barbie birthday cake toppers, with Barbie as a baseball player and gymnast.
I bought several cleaning products, including Comet Classic Kitchen Cleaner with Bleach, and there were lots of off-brand window and toilet bowl cleaners. I also got parchment paper for cooking and aluminum foil. And I was excited to find a semi-fashionable pair of reading glasses, since I typically pay at least $15 when I buy them at a pharmacy.Dollar General