What to buy at the dollar store

I used to work in a dollar store.  It was my first retail job ever.  I wasn’t very good at customer service then:

Customer: “This is terrible, blah blah blah blah…”

Me: “Well… you’re welcome to leave.”

Customer: “You can’t talk to me like that.  You think that because your father owns this store you can talk to me like that?  Blah blah blah…”

Me: “The manager is a white, gay male.  I really don’t think he fathered me.”

Customer: [ attempts to exit through enter door ]  “Let me out!  How do I get out?!”

Me: [snickers…]

Photo credit: Original photo by mod as hell via Flikr http://www.flickr.com/photos/modashell/3359233601/


Aside from the poor customer service provided by my 16 year old self (and the inability of people to discern which door is the exit door), dollar stores don’t have the best reputation.  They’re known for tacky children’s toys and funny plastic smells.  But there’s a lot of great things that you can get at the dollar store.

  • Gift bags and wrapping paper: There’s actually quite a few quality gift bag makers that supply dollar stores.  I should know – I spent many hours unpacking them and hanging them up!  It’s much better to pay $1.50 for a gift bag than $4.99… or more!  Similarly, why pay more for wrapping paper when the recipient is just going to throw it away anyways?  Hit up the dollar store the next time you’re rushing off to a birthday party.
  • Party supplies: Whether it’s for a child’s birthday or a bachelor party, dollar stores are a great place to get party supplies.  Things like party favours, novelty napkins or plates, coloured toothpicks… You might save more per item if you buy these products in bulk, but do you really need 100 blue napkins with Finding Nemo on them?  No.  You need 20.  So just buy a pack or two at the dollar store and don’t worry about the unit cost.
  • Kitchen odds and ends: I would not buy a chef’s knife at a dollar store, but I do buy things like ladles, plastic containers for storing nuts and cereal (don’t put them in the microwave!), and organizers.  Basically, any plastic-y things that help you cook and organize your kitchen can be found cheaper in the dollar store.  Just be careful about using products that might come in contact with hot food – depending on the type of plastic, it may leach chemicals when heated.
  • Gum, candy and pop: Junk food products at the dollar store come from the same brand name suppliers as you get at the regular supermarket.  They’re able to sell the products for so much cheaper because companies price based on what they think the retailer can sell it for.  So for example, at the dollar store where I worked, we sold cans of Coke for 50 cents each.  We purchased them from Coke for much, much less.  The only concern may be that the products are not as fresh because the stock does not rotate as quickly.


So save yourself some money!  The next time you need a sugar hit or a few party supplies, consider supporting your neighbourhood dollar store.

Posted in: Minimalism and Frugality

Top of page