Why I never shop at dollar stores
Are you a dollar store detester or devotee? You won't catch me in one. Here's why.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
In my opinion, that's not reason enough. After all, what if the item wasn't worth a dollar in the first place? What if you could get it cheaper somewhere else? But, nope -- she's convinced the dollar store is universally a great deal.
I'm not. In fact, based on past experience, I stopped shopping dollar stores long ago. But since it had been a while -- and persuaded by my friend -- I recently thought maybe it was time for another look. Maybe she was right. Maybe I'd find great deals when I got there.
I went. I didn't find great deals, and now I'm 100% convinced I'm not going back. Here's why:
I'm a firm believer in "You get what you pay for." While you can find a few good deals on generic meds or store-brand groceries, many things have a low price point because they're cheaply made and won't last very long.
I noticed quality was lacking in the products at the dollar store I visited. For example, a plastic 1-cup measuring cup seemed like a good deal, until I looked closer. The label said, "Not recommended for microwave or dishwasher use." So, yes, you can get a measuring cup for a dollar -- you just have to wash it by hand and never put anything hot in it. Forget that. I just bought a glass 2-cup measuring cup at TJ Maxx for $3.99, and I can put it in the dishwasher and the microwave.
The store had a mesh kitchen strainer that seemed OK on the shelf. Upon further inspection, I saw that the handle was cheap plastic and the mesh already had two pretty serious dents I couldn't pop out. Wal-Mart sells a stainless steel Farberware strainer for $7.99. While it costs more, it isn't as likely to dent, rust or break. Post continues below.
Here was something I needed: an eyeglass case. The case was built pretty sturdily and had a decent look, but when I went to put my reading glasses in it, they didn't fit. Instead, I found a case for $3.99 at Kmart that looked the same, but actually held my glasses.
A dollar isn't always the cheapest price you can get when you break something down into unit cost. Several things I found in small amounts just didn't add up. For example:
- Dollar store price -- 18 square feet of Reynolds Wrap for a buck.
- Better price -- 200 square feet of Reynolds Wrap for $7.98 at Wal-Mart. Break that down, and it costs 2 cents less a square foot.
- Dollar store price -- one Sharpie for a dollar.
- Better price -- 12-pack of Sharpies for $8.29 at Office Depot. Break that down and each Sharpie costs 31 cents less.
- Dollar store price -- one legal pad for a dollar.
- Better price -- Pack of 12 legal pads for $5.46 at Sam's Club. Break that down, and you'd spend 54 cents less per legal pad.
Sale prices often cause the items you buy to drop below a dollar, making it a better deal to shop the ads. For example:
- Dollar store price -- two packs of G2 gel pens for a dollar.
- Better sale price -- two packs of G2 gel pens for $1.49 each. On sale this week at Walgreens -- buy one, get one free. Break that down, and you'd save 51 cents buying the pens at the sale price.
- Dollar store price -- 12-ounce Gatorade for a buck.
- Better sale price -- 12 packs of 12-ounce Gatorades on sale this week at Target -- two packs for $13. With the sale price, you'd get 24 Gatorades for $13. If you bought them at the dollar store, you'd pay $11 more for the same amount.
- Dollar store price -- one pair of women's active-wear socks for $1.
- Better sale price -- six-pack of women's active-wear socks on sale this week at Wal-Mart for $4.77. At the sale price, you'd save $1.23.
Many dollar stores do not accept manufacturer's coupons. So if you want to use those coupons, you'll have to shop elsewhere. And you should. Many items cost less than $1 with a coupon, especially if you stack them with a sale price. For example:
- Dollar store price -- Dove dish soap for a buck.
- Coupon price -- 20 cents off one bottle in this week's circulars. If you bought it on sale at CVS for 99 cents and used the coupon, you'd save 21 cents.
- Dollar store price -- generic-brand frozen pizzas, $1 each.
- Coupon price -- Smart Source has a coupon for $1 off five Totino's frozen pizzas. Since Wal-Mart sells those pizzas for $1 each already, you'd save $1 if you shopped there and used a coupon.
The items I found aren't the only duds at the dollar store. Check out "10 dollar store duds" from Money Talks News' Stacy Johnson.
Of course, you should always do your own detective work to find the best deals wherever you shop, and for some, dollar stores may be where you find them. But me? No thanks.
What about you? Are you a detester of dollar stores or a devotee? Add your 2 cents below.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
To be fair, I get what you're saying. Some things at the dollar store cost more per unit then they do in other stores. But the whole article smacks of condescension and you could have gotten your point across just fine without it. By your tone and choice of wording, you'd think that any store with the word "Dollar" in the title is harboring some sort of infectious disease you might catch if you set foot in one.
You lost your audience entirely when you knocked the quality of things some people can't afford anywhere else. Or when you list 6+ different stores (some requiring a $40 and up membership fee) as alternative places you can find better quality items then what's sold in a dollar store, when not everyone reading has the ability to drive across town to purchase a $4 measuring cup or a $7 strainer.
Not everyone shops in Dollar stores to score cheap stuff. Some shop their because they only have $7 in their pocket until payday and rather then use that to buy a quality strainer, they're going to buy bread, milk and eggs to feed their family. I've been in that situation before. Let's hope you never find yourself there, slicing yourself a big piece of humble pie as you walk into a dollar store out of necessity, not for fodder for a fluff piece on why you're above dollar stores.
As for this one opinion of this one person not worth my time, I just hope that someday you don't lose your job and have to shop at your local dollar store to be able to afford the things you need in these trying times for many AMERICANS! Most people wouldn't be able to eat if these stores did not exist. We see on average 60% of our customers are seniors, and folks out of jobs, think about that before degrading dollar stores.
Everything in our store is truly 1 dollar or less, if you have the kind of money to waste on more expensive items, please feel free to but don't knock down the people who can only afford to shop in those stores because you you think they can get a better deal elsewhere.
Maybe these people don't want 8 sharpies, only need one, or only need one poster board, or just one tiny card that is only 53.cents just for it to get tossed away. Oh I could go on and on but you get the big picture.
Find something important to report on, not what you think is a bad thing, here's to hoping I don't see you in line at my local dollar store and in the un employment line.
Not everyone needs or wants to buy a dozen of anything in order to save a few cents.
Granted the quality isn't there when comparing a one dollar item to an eight dollar item.....
duh. The fact is that dollar stores do provide a need and offer value, but consumers need to
Evidently this woman that went to dollar tree, has way too much money. to think that other places are cheaper.I shop for only food there to make ends meet, and as far as the pens and such, the kids lose them before they can wear out, so no big deal. I cannot afford to pay $7.00 for foil, so i buy the foil squares. So when you only make $800.00 a month you shop where you can afford. and guess what the foil last for over a month for a buck. The idea that it has to last us longer doesn't matter, it is the initial output of money, that we do not have.
I like dollar stores. I agree that dollar stores are not always the cheapest, but they're sometimes the cheapest and rarely significantly overpriced.
For the office supplies comparison - yes, the office supply stores are cheaper if you buy in bulk, but maybe I don't want a dozen of something.
For the most part, I think their health & beauty products, cleaning products and gift wrap/cards/party supplies are a good value.
First of all it seems to me like she's comparing a single location of a dollar store to eight separate retail chains (Sam's Club, Wal Mart, K Mart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, TJ Maxx, Office Depot) in 4 different retail categories (warehouse store, department store, drug store and office supply store). This seems a bit unfair to the lonely little dollar store. Maybe if you compare it flatly against one store like Wal Mart it would be more fair. Also there would be a greater cost of time, gasoline and opportunity by driving to 8 stores instead of 1 that is not accounted for here.
Secondly, she claims that saving 2 cents per square foot (the dollar store foil is approx 40% more) on aluminum foil is a good deal (which seems like it's just a per-unit savings for buying the foil in a higher quantity - an advantage that will always go to Wal Mart over any other retail chain) but then she also says that spending $7 (approx 700%) more on a strainer is a good deal based solely upon the fact that she perceives a greater value in a brand name and cursory glance of each strainer and not by any sort of empirical measurement. Even by her own words, the Faberware "isn't as likely to dent, rust, or break." She does not claim that it would last 8 times longer than the dollar store strainer, which would be the Faberware strainer's break-even point as far as value goes.
She does make some good arguments and I'm not saying that dollar stores are always a great deal (they have higher and lower margin goods like every other retail store) but this article seems to smell pretty badly of confirmation and selection bias'.
I work for "Dollar General" not the Dollar Store.( Your article shows a "Dollar General".) We, as ALL retailers have the inexpensive items. Not always is it a case of them being cheaply made. Yes we have many $ items and most are quality items. We except manufactures coupons on everything. Everyday! Our sales are competitive with the "big" stores.(Will not name names.)
See the thing is, you my thrifty shopper are driving all over tim-buck-too are "saving money" doing so....? I don't think so!!
But OUR customers like the fact that they don't have to deal with the long lines at the "big" stores! We offer what they need all at one place. Our customers are loyal, regular, happy shoppers.
It isn't always about the ole' mighty $ either. Some prefer the intimacy of dealing with us. As for cleanliness, we are governed by the same health inspectors as the "big" stores. We take pride in our store!
So please don't be so fast to judge us. I challenge you to come to my store and see if you can't find what you are looking for.
The article could have been much shorter, she should have just written......
Why I don't shop at $1 stores:
Because I have lots of disposable income.........and I'm a snob.
Well since I do shop at a dollar store, and what SHE DOES NOT REALIZE sometimes I only have a buck for a pen or a buck fifty for tin foil et......Wal-mart where I live is 14 miles round trip thats a gallon of gas in my van. For people who dont make allot buying that cheap item in the moment is exactly what they needed, I believe dollar stores do provide a valuable service, If I had the money to buy everything in bulk and or drive around to many stores i would, I know when I get to my dollar store, what I need will probably be there at a cost I can afford in that moment. We dont all have the same paychecks or needs, I dont even have a problem with dollar store alkaline, work fine in my portables. So I guess its all about who you are, what you make, what your needs are, and whats realistic in YOUR budget. Sometimes a buck for detergent is the best price possible for me.
Get of your high horse dora, come live with the common folk
Shoppers have to be aware of market prices and sales to get the best values, but in shopping the real dollar stores in my area and concentrating on the things I know are more everywhere else I save money and don't have to buy in bulk to save which doesn't work for my budget or storage ability.. EXAMPLES: greeting cards, 2! for a dollar, all gift bags, wrapping paper, bows, etc, children's activity books, coloring books, crayons, some snacks, some frozen items, loaf of bread, reading glasses (don't last forever but feel I still get my dollar's worth compared to $8+ everywhere else), 6 pack of bottled water, and guess I could go on but you get the idea.
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