Dollar stores can be bastions of great bargains, and every savvy shopper knows that there are some things that are just better purchased at your local discount spot than splurged on at a bigger store. But beware the items that seem too good to be true: They’re out there, right alongside the items that look like they’re cheaper but actually aren’t.
1. Medication and vitamins
When it comes to what you put in your body to make it feel better, you’re better off sticking to items in mainstream stores. A few years ago, Consumer Reports released some alarming findings on Dollar Store vitamins, including mislabeled nutrients and tablets that wouldn’t dissolve.
2. Lotions and beauty items
Like the things that go in your body, you want to be careful with the items that go on your body. The discount body sprays, body wash and lotions might look like a great deal, but more cheaply made items sometimes have harsh fragrances or chemicals that could cause irritation. Brand-name soap and shampoo items can usually be had for cheaper or even free at retailers like Walgreens through the use of coupons and loyalty points.
3. Candy, sodas and snacks.
A lot of experienced bargain-hunters have discovered that candy and soda are actually at least as (and sometimes even more) expensive than the same products at a bodega or supermarket.
They just don’t last as long. They might be cheaper, sure, but you’re getting exactly what you pay for. If you bought only dollar store batteries, you may ultimately end up spending more money constantly replacing the wasted ones than if you bought brand-name batteries with coupons.
See above. A one-dollar screwdriver will do the trick once or twice, but the plastic handles of dollar store tools are typically brittle and don’t hold up that great. Household tools are definitely worth investing in.
6. Toilet paper and paper towels
Cheap begets cheap. Typical dollar store paper items are one-ply, loosely rolled and fall apart too quickly. Like batteries, you’ll buy them over and over again. Plus, wipe with one-ply enough times and you’ll eventually start dreading having to visit the porcelain throne.
7. Canned goods
They are as cheap or cheaper at a grocery store, especially when coupons are involved. Stores like Kroger usually have 10 for 10 deals on store-brand items like beans and canned vegetables, so there’s no need to make a separate trip to a dollar store to get them each week.
8. Boxed mixes
Here’s something you might not know about dollar store cake mixes: They usually only yield half of what their brand-name counterparts will, which means you would have to spend the same amount anyway just to bake a whole cake!
Who doesn’t love a nice scented candle? Just skip the ones available at the dollar store. They usually smell funky (or not at all) and they “tunnel,” meaning that the wax is so cheap it doesn’t melt evenly — just around the wick.
10. Kid’s toys
These are usually cheap, off-brand items that fall apart easily, turning them into choking hazards for little ones or just general disappointments. Plus, who can forget the creepy self-harm toy one mom discovered at her local dollar store? Yikes!