What would you NOT buy at a dollar store?

dollarstroeI love dollar stores. In the 90s, I photographed and shopped at dollar-store equivalents in Japan, pre-Euro Spain, Amsterdam, Scotland (All Things A Pound!), Mexico. I mean, what’s not to love about a store where you can get a 3-pack of 80% cotton sweat socks (does anyone still call them that anymore?) for the change in your pocket? Well … there are probably a few things in the store that make you shudder at the thought of using, and I’m curious – what are they?

One of my mother’s co-workers feeds herself and her kid from the dollar store. They catch every little bug going around, and the co-worker often has stomach issues. My mother keeps lecturing her that the no-name dollar store canned goods come from China, and hasn’t she been paying attention to the news about such things? And all that stuff is nutritionless carbohydrates loaded with salt and preservatives, no wonder their immune systems are shot. The woman won’t listen to her. I suspect we can all agree that my mother is right, and that unfamiliar brands at a dollar store should be avoided while expiration dates on name-brand items should be vigilantly checked.

No one I know would even consider wearing dollar-store underpants…but over the years, I’ve run into a few people who buy them for traveling. They wear them once or twice and throw them out, because they can’t bear the thought of the TSA sifting through their dirty dainties. Plus, ditching 5-10 pairs of undies frees up a bit of space for souvenirs. My personal trick for this one is to bring pairs that are on their last legs and toss them. It’s more eco-friendly as well as hygienic (most dollar-store undies are nylon, blech).

Favorite things to buy at a dollar store:  greeting cards, gift bags & wrapping supplies, craft items, ziploc-esque baggies, disposable aluminum cooking trays, votive candles, chenille gloves.

Things I’d never consider buying at a dollar store, in addition to the above items:  plastic baby items (e.g. bottles, rattles), deodorant (that stuff HAS to work – no compromising there!), soap (they often stock Ivory and Safeguard, but I find them a bit harsh on my skin despite their soothing names).

So where do you stand on dollar stores?
–  Are you a fan or do you avoid them like the plague?
–  What things do you like buying there?
–  What else would you add to my list of things to avoid?


12 Responses

  1. I have a love/hate relationship with dollar stores. Sometimes you find such great stuff! Sometimes you find stuff that seems great and is pure trash!

    I used to love buying cleaning supplies and otc medications (things like cough drops and tylenol) at dollar stores. But I recently bought a pack of emery boards (namebrand) and they are all warped and horrible.

    I wouldn’t buy underwear or cookware from dollar stores. I outfitted my “kitchen” in college with dollar store goods, and the smell of the pots infused all my food. Ugh.

  2. Christmas stocking stuffers!

  3. What I would NOT buy… is anything to do with food or cooking it. Such as utensils, pans or actual food, even candy, even though it’s brand name there.

    However, I’m okay with mugs. Big fat mugs to use in the morning for my tea but not ones that hold hot liquid. I buy a real thermos for that.

    I also don’t get the disposable underwear thing. I’m okay with them touching my undies.

    Just don’t wear them or hold them up and comment.

    Then again I don’t like the idea of generating waste just because I’m squeamish over a latex glove touching my stuff.

    I like the idea of bringing your underwear on its last broken legs and tossing them. That, I agree with.

    What I WILL buy is stuff like trinket gifts (although I’ve since given up giving useless gifts), pads of paper that I use to write on, gift wrapping paper/bags (I’ve given up on this wasteful behaviour too), and dish towels.

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver…

  4. I will NOT buy toothpaste (it’s usually made in a foreign country and doesnt meet ADA standards), people food, pet food, pet treats, or pet toys.

    I do like to buy gift wrap, gift cards, art supplies (coloring books, crayons, etc) and oven mitts, kitchen towels, some paper goods.

  5. You know, i’d hit it up ALL the time if they were just freakin’ CLEAN and NICE looking! seriously, maybe there are just shoddy ones around here, but i’m all about the “great feeling” when you walk into a store.

    This is why i shop at Target over Walmart, and TJ Maxx over Ross, etc….if it’s clean and happy looking, i’m all about it 😉 That said, i have picked up a few things there over time.

  6. The only thing I purchase at dollar stores: wrapping paper and batteries. Everything else… ummm.. scares me.

  7. i like to get cleaning products at dollar stores! also dishtowels and rags, party supplies (ie. streamers) and cleaning accouterments like buckets, mops.

  8. I wouldn’t buy anything to consume or that could possibly poison you, cause half that stuff shouldn’t be on the shelves. If Mr M is working on a low budget production he’ll pick up a lot of the set dressing from dollar stores – plates, mugs, bowls, candles, kitchen crap, whatever. If it weren’t for his job I’d never step foot in one.

  9. I’m with Miss M… <.< Also, no underwear; no deodorant; no personal beauty products (my skin is really sensitive).

    I’ve only been in the dollar store once in the past few years… and I don’t think I came out with anything. To be honest, I’d probably never intentionally set out to go to the dollar store to buy something. If I happened to walk by one on my way to someplace else, I might go in just to have a look around, but that’s about it.

  10. I can’t believe the posts I see here. The 99 cents only stores

    in California carry brand names and brands from other parts of the US that we don’t always recognise. I have never gotten anything that I couldn’t use or eat and never was the worst for it. I think you people are the type that wouln’t go to a garrage sale or a thrift store. That’s ok there is room for every mindset and if your not shopping there there are more items for those of us who do.

  11. It humours me that you all say you woudn’t buy things there when they have name brand stuff…

    I got Dove intensive conditner there, Dove liquid body deep moisturizing and sensitive skin soap, arm and hammer cleaning spray, sponges, Sarah lee bread, Breyers ice cream, Intensive care vaseline…

    You just have to look for name brand….

  12. I love to buy packs of sponges and scrubber sponges for washing dishes. I also like to get the lined pads of paper for making lists. I usually go to Dollar Tree, but the other day I checked out the 99 cent store for the first time and found organic Hunts tomatoes that still had quite a bit of time before they expire. I got a cute Halloween decoration for my door and my husband and I got a couple of accessories to complete our costumes. A few years ago we bought some wine glasses at the Dollar Tree. We use them a lot and they are still in good shape.

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