The Corner of Cheap St and Value Ave

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We call items like these “dust-catchers”, and there is virtually no price I will pay for them.

My parents LOVED the dollar store. Especially Dollar Tree where “Everything’s $1!” Even with this low price point for each item, my mom could find a way to spend plenty of money in there, filling the cart with boxes of crackers and cookies, small trinkets, plastic bins (did you know you can never have enough plastic bins), or my (least) favorite – scrunchies and key chains.

For a long time, that’s how I saw the dollar stores – as sources for dust-catchers and other low quality and useless stuff that I had no desire to bring into my home. But, I’ve since learned that Cheap Street and Value Avenue do occasionally intersect.  I just had to figure out where those meeting points are – and that is where I found there is definitely a time and place for the dollar store in my life.

So what do I buy at the dollar store? In a word – consumables.

The thing about items at the dollar store, is that when they are made to be sold for $1, they aren’t really designed to last a long time. So I’ve embraced that. Items that are meant to be used up, or used once and then discarded I have no problem buying for $1.

Here are some of the things that I buy from the dollar store.

  • Cleaning Supplies – I’ve found that most of the cleaning supplies in the dollar store are pretty equivalent to the name-brand ones in the store. Fabric softener, bleach, and liquid dish soap are some of my more common purchases here since they don’t ever seem to go on sale for similar $/oz. prices as you can get at the dollar store.
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Just as soft as Snuggle, I swear!

  • DisposablesI put things into this category that are meant to be used once. Things like wrapping paper, plastic table cloths, greeting cards, gift bags, paper plates, etc. The morality of disposable things aside, the fact of the matter is that it’s virtually impossible to not need them at one time or another. Yes, we try and re-use and recycle, but if something’s really only going to have one use – like wrapping paper, I try at least not to waste money on it.
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Plastic table cloths, wrapping and tissue paper – if you’ll only use it once, why spend more than $1?

  • Generic Meds – Vitamins and generic pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be great values – but check the expiration dates. They’re not supposed to sell anything past the expiration, just make sure that you expect to use what you’re buying before the expiration date. Also, I can’t personally vouch for the accuracy, but they sell no-name pregnancy tests that are supposed to be just as accurate as the ones that cost $10 in the supermarket.
What won’t I buy from the dollar store?

If it’s not worth $1 to me, there’s pretty much no chance I would take it even if it were free.

  • Junk Food – And this is a LOT of the food inside dollar stores. Shelves of cookies and processed foods, I was actually surprised to come across a single 16oz. container of unflavored quick oats, which at $1 was a good deal. A bear shaped jar filled with golden liquid caught my eye and for a moment I thought I had just found the best value on honey. But no… that’s not honey, but honey-flavored syrup that’s selling for $1. Eeek.
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Honey Flavored Syrup – really, this exists?

  • Stuff that doesn’t work well– Occasionally, you’ll try a product and it just won’t perform up to expectation. One cleaning supply that I have been banned from ever bringing home again is generic window cleaner. Mr. PoP (who does the window cleaning around the house) complained so much about the streaks that the cheap stuff left that it’s now officially banned in the PoP residence.
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    “Streak Free” on the label is false advertising.

 

What else is in the dollar store these days?

A lot, actually. If it’s been a while since you’ve been in one, check it out. There’s a lot that I didn’t include in here since it doesn’t really apply to us. (i.e. all the rows of stuff for kids)

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Activity Books – no need for these now, but I could see them coming in handy as some of our friends’ kids start to get a little older.

 

What do you buy in the dollar store?

 

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