- Dollar Tree is thriving in an era when many traditional retailers are faltering, with more than 15,000 stores in North America.
- We consulted a shopping expert and several blogs and online reviews to find the best and worst products at Dollar Tree.
- Here are 15 products to buy at Dollar Tree and 15 to consider skipping.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Thanks to its loyal customers and vast reach, Dollar Tree has been a glimmer of hope in a landscape of struggling big-box retailers.
Today, Dollar Tree – which includes its namesake brand as well as Family Dollar and Dollar Tree Canada – has more than 15,000 stores in North America and consistently posts increasing sales. For the second quarter of 2019, the company reported that same-store sales grew by 2.4% at Dollar Tree stores.
According to shopping expert Michelle Madhok, Dollar Tree’s best offerings are household items, ranging from cleaners and detergents to seasonal decor.
“Overall, if you’re not picky about brands, it’s the way to go. For example, I don’t really care about what brands of paper towels I’m using, and you can get a better deal than a store brand,” she said.
The benefit of Dollar Tree’s bargain prices is that you can experiment with new items without breaking the bank, Madhok said. Plus, in addition to using Dollar Tree coupons, you can also use manufacturer’s coupons to maximise discounts, she added.
“It’s a great place to make your dollar go further and stretch your budget,” she said.
With such low prices, it can be tempting to want to buy everything at Dollar Tree. However, some products are better than others.
With that in mind, here are 15 items to buy at Dollar Tree and 15 items to skip.
Buy: Party supplies
Money Talks News estimates that you’ll pay about 70% less on party supplies at Dollar Tree than you would at discount stores like Party City. You can find everything from streamers and party hats to paper plates and utensils, all in one stop.
Buy: Seasonal decor
When it comes to holiday decor, Dollar Tree’s got you covered. The store has a rotating selection of seasonal items at low prices, which Madhok said expanded in recent years to compete with off-price stores like TJ Maxx.
Buy: Wrapping paper and gift bags
Since the recipient of your gift is likely planning on pitching the torn wrapping paper or gift bag after opening, you might as well get it for a bargain. Dollar Tree carries a wide assortment of gift wrap in a variety of colours and patterns.
If you’re the parent of young children or in a vocation that involves kids, like a school teacher or caretaker, Lydia of the blog Thrifty Frugal Mum recommends hitting up Dollar Tree for cheap, fun stickers.
Skip: Over-the-counter drugs
Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar were embroiled in controversy this year due to a series of lawsuits alleging the chains sold expired drugs to consumers. In August, a judge ordered that the stores collectively pay $US1.2 million in fines and damages.
“It’s a tough pill for New Yorkers to swallow that the over-the-counter drugs they were buying may have been expired,”New York Attorney General Leticia James said in a statement in August. “New York consumers have a right to expect that products on store shelves are safe, fresh and suitable for their advertised use.”
All that to say, it’s best to steer clear of any drugs or medication from Dollar Tree.
Skip: Motor oil
Motor oil was also part of the lawsuits this year, due to claims that dollar stores had previously sold unviable fuel designed only for car engines made before 1930.
Buy: Greeting cards
Dollar Tree has an impressive collection of greeting cards for all occasions and holidays, and while you “might not get textured paper or fancy extras such as ribbon, the heartfelt message you write will be the same regardless of how expensive the card looks,” wrote Maryalene LaPonsie for Money Talks News.
Buy: Hair accessories
Dollar Tree has a wide assortment of hair accessories, so you can stock up on bobby pins, hair ties, and headbands on the cheap.
Buy: Paper products
Madhock said to look out for bonus packs of paper products like toilet paper and paper towels to stretch your dollar even further.
The toys at dollar stores aren’t always properly tested and can be dangerous for small children, consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“Especially for children under 3, pieces can easily break and get swallowed. A trip to the ER isn’t worth a couple of saved bucks,” she said
Skip: Pet food
Woroch also recommended sticking to name-brand pet food to prevent your furry friends from falling ill from potentially bad formulas or expired products.
If you’re looking for tools, Doug Murray of Slice recommends looking elsewhere for quality equipment that will help you get the job done more effectively and safety.
“Cheap tools are fine for emergencies or if you’re only going to use them a few times. But if you want tools that will last for years, go with the good stuff,” he wrote.
Murray also suggests steering clear of Dollar Tree’s batteries, which tend to be off-brand varieties that “can be poorly made or drain quickly.” Others run the risk of leaking, so it’s best to stick to Duracell, Energizer, and other time-tested options.
Buy: Plastic containers
Dollar store containers are a solid option when you’re looking for a cheap way to store your leftovers.
Buy: Storage containers
You can also find tons of household storage containers, so you can stay organised for just a few dollars.
Buy: Cotton swabs
They might not be as high-quality as your drugstore variety, but the products like cotton swabs and balls that Dollar Tree sells work just as well for a fraction of the cost.
Buy: Craft supplies
You might not find Crayola, but you can snag loads of low-priced craft supplies – perfect for stocking a playroom or classroom on a budget.
When it comes to makeup, experts warn you’ll run the risk of accidentally buying expired products from dollar stores.
“I would avoid these products,” shopping expert Trae Bodge told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “You will probably not recognise the brands, and if you do, they may have been sitting on the shelf for a long time.”
Skip: Plastic cooking utensils
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, plastic cooking utensils at dollar stores have been said to possibly contain hints of bromine, a part of flame-retardant materials that can be linked to cancer.
Steer clear of Dollar Tree knives, which tend to be dull and ineffective, consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“Some items in the kitchen section, like food storage containers, are a good buy,” she said. “However, when it comes to knives, it’s a big no-no, since these won’t be sharp – and dull knives can be very dangerous.”
Skip: Garbage bags
It’s irritating to have to spend money on trash bags, but Slice says it’s worth paying a few more dollars for a sturdy store brand like Hefty.
“If you don’t want garbage bags bursting on the way to the curb, spend a few bucks more on the quality brand names,” wrote Doug Murray for Slice.
Buy: Colouring books and puzzles
Toys might be off the table, but Dollar Tree is a great spot to pick up activities like puzzles and colouring books on the cheap.
Plus, as Melissa Riker at The Happier Homemaker points out, it’s so affordable, “who cares if the pieces go missing after a while.”
Buy: Pregnancy tests
Of all the products you hope will work effectively, pregnancy tests are near the top of the list, and surprisingly several bloggers said Dollar Tree has a quality assortment of reliable tests.
“I know what you are thinking – ‘But do they actually work?!'”wrote Lydia of Thrifty Frugal Mum. “The answer is yes! We used these pregnancy tests to find out if we were pregnant with 4 of our 5 children and they were totally accurate!”
Mugs and glasses tend to be a steal at dollar stores, according to Money Talks News.
“The quality is comparable to what you might get at Walmart or other mass merchandisers,” Money Talks News’ Maryalene LaPonsie wrote. “As a bonus, you can typically buy only the items you need rather than being forced to purchase a set.”
Buy: Reading glasses
Lydia of Thrifty Frugal Mum said Dollar Tree is an ideal place to stock up on both sunglasses and reading glasses.
“One friend said she really likes that she can buy several pairs to have at different spots without spending a lot, plus, if a grandchild happens to break them, it’s not a big loss,” she wrote.
Skip: Back-to-school supplies
While $US1 notebooks and mechanical pencil packs sound alluring during the back-t0-school rush, Brent Shelton of FatWallet.com told Kiplinger that customers are better suited to wait for bulk deals at big-box stores like Target and Walmart to find higher-quality supplies at comparable prices.
Similar to over-the-counter medication, vitamins have also been found to be expired or outdated at dollar stores, so it’s best to snag these at the drugstore or pharmacy.
Skip: Oven mitts
Discount cooking supplies in general should be considered with a discerning eye at dollar stores, but that’s especially true with items that deal with heat, like oven mitts. Slice suggests avoiding these, as they’re typically made with lower-quality materials that might not properly protect against heat and burns.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and that’s no exception for Dollar Tree headphones. Super cheap earbuds ultimately equate to equally cheap sound quality, according to Slice.
Skip: Electric cords
Additionally, electronics and cords in general are best found outside of Dollar Tree to ensure safety and efficacy, according to several bloggers.
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