Sunday, August 31, 2008

To Buy or Not To Buy, Or Dilemmas at the Dollar Store

After many years of wrinkled nose disdain, I have made the dollar store a regular stop on my monthly shopping schedule. My original dislike was rooted in a little bit of snobbery and a little bit of practicality. Practically speaking much of what can be found at such places is simply junk. I'm not the type of person to go trudging through a place that smells of plastic looking for hidden gems, but one thing kept me occasionally visiting the dollar store, one of my favorite things, Wrapping Paper.

Unlike most people, I take gift wrapping seriously. I refuse to give gifts in a bag, to me it says, "I barely had time to buy you something, much less spend any energy making it look nice." There have been rare occasions when the shape and size of a gift was impractical wrapped and I did use a bag, but it was always tied with a balloon or two to make it just a little bit more special. But I digress, wrapping and a card can easily add ten bucks to the price of gift and with a daughter in school now, birthdays started multiplying, so I sought out the dollar store to save a little green.

I have compiled a list of things I find are really worth the extra stop at a strip mall, and a list of things that are a waste of money even at the price of $1.

To Buy

  • Wrapping paper (gift bags too if you are of that persuasion)
  • Mylar balloons-these can easily cost $3 to $6 at party stores and you always want more than one
  • Greeting cards-the selection is a little cheesy and you would not want to buy your wife's anniversary card there, but great for those never ending kid's birthdays. While $3 to $5 at the gift stores they are usually two for $1
  • Hand soap-So many of my friends and family buy that great pumping soap from Bath & Body Works for their bathrooms and kitchens, but my kids go through hand soap like crazy and if you find a nice dollar store they should have a nice selection of name brands.
  • Body Lotion-I'm sure I will lose a few of you here, but I'm a cocoa butter girl and a giant vat of cocoa butter for $1 that will last me two months is irresistible.
  • Toys-When I'm looking for stocking stuffers or party favors this is the first place I go.
  • Stationary-My local dollar store has a great selection of note cards and grocery lists, not to mention a surprisingly nice group of scrapbook items, and stickers, my kids love stickers.
  • Kid's Learning Workbooks-I have paid $7 at Target for similar books. Recently I picked up a Disney Princess Math for my 6-year-old and a Disney Princess Alphabet Writing for my 4-year-old.
Not to Buy
  • Household Cleaners-I've tried them, they suck (I think the pretreat spray I bought was just scented water). Even if they have the brands you love, they are usually in smaller packages that aren't really worth a dollar.
  • Food-Oh, the junk they sell. Expired, tiny packages, creepy ingredients, the whole food aisle is an organic advocate's greatest nightmare.
  • Hair products-When it comes to the hair you just need to stick with what you love. Apparently, I do not love balsam protein conditioner or generic scented kids shampoo, Stinky!
  • Pens-It is amazing how angry you can get when an entire package of pens won't write.
  • Floral arrangements-No explanation needed.
  • Toys-Toys make both lists because they are hit and miss. Many, many things in the toy aisle are cheap in all the worst meanings of the word cheap.


tagalong said...

I find some great bargain at Dollar Tree in the food department, it always pays to check the expiration date though. Banana chips, flavored roasted chickpeas, and crackers are favorites. I've found great bargains in the health & beauty aisle too, foot scrapers for $1 and travel-size hairsprays that are much more at Wal-mart.

Shauna said...

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