Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dollar Stores - friend or foe

Many people use the dollar store regularly. Many will only buy certain items. And there are even some that won't set foot into one. A dollar store evokes images of cheap Chinese goods oozing lead or worse. Some people think of them as places where only those with very low income shop because it is all they can afford. And some just feel that it is below them.
BUT I LOVE THEM! If I haven't been in a long time I can actually get a tingle wondering what goodies I might find. What cheap-o treasure I may bring home. And how when I go to pay Ihow I actually can spend that much when everything is a dollar.
A good dollar store (there are bad ones out there) can be a great help in being frugal. But they can also be your downfall. You must let them know who is control in the relationship! Just because they are giving good love doesn't mean that you have to always foot the bill.
There is a lot of potentially dangerous crap in there. I would never ever buy anything for a baby in there. Especially things which will be going into their mouth. PVC, lead and the toxic melamine have all surfaced in items there. And frankly some stuff just sucks and will break after you have walked out of the store. And with their strict no return/exchange policy you have to choose wisely.
At times you may walk in and find name brand products. Example was I found monster tubes of Crest there. I was holding it, turning the box over in my hand and something didn't sit right. It was the right color, everything was where it should be but something told me that it was either a second or a fake. About a week later I saw on City Pulse news that several stores were forced to remove it because it was fake. So you do have to be careful and if you see a product that looks like a top brand real the label carefully. Look for a company address. Dove shampoo for example should not have a Chinese mailing address. Yes, I am sure Dove has expanded to China, but the labels would not be in English and very rare for it to be found outside China. If in doubt ever...leave it. Also read the label. Something may say where it is made, somethings only mention where the warehouse is, meaning you have no idea where it was produced. A deal is great but not at the risk of making yourself or family ill.
In my opinion the best deals are:
- coloring books, work books and books
- school supplies like pens, erasers etc.
- gift wrap, gift bags and seasonal decorations
- licensed Disney products for kids like stickers, notebooks etc
- paper, office supplies, envelopes
- loot bag stuffers
- mine sells 1L coke products and Lay's products - these are legit as I have seen the guy coming in to stock
- cleaning supplies, scrub brushes, sponges etc
- hooks, picture frames (sometimes look good but fall apart) and gag gift type things
- I don't scrap book but the selection seems pretty impressive to me
- great arts and crafts supplies
- ERA plastic ware - made in Canada!!!
- garbage bags and freezer bags
- dish cloths and sometimes I find the odd thick tea towel
- hair stuff like clips
- I have been very happy with their combs and brushes
- painting supplies, their small brushes have helped paint many a room in my house
- fishing lures
- napkins and party ware
- cards
Things I refuse to buy:
- anything that deals with electrical needs
- candles (many of the wicks have lead in them, burn poorly and quickly)
- food
- made in China plastic ware
- dishes (I am too concerned about lead)
- their plastic kitchen tools, these don't just melt, the go from a solid to a liquid state in about 2 seconds flat
- anything that has to do with the issue of being safe, locks, bike chains etc
- any health product, not sure how accurate their preggo tests are
- anything that goes in your mouth or on your skin, lip balm, skin cream etc (unless I can be 100% sure it is a brand name)
- their bar soap
- make up
- anything for my first aid kit
- baby stuff of any kind
You get the idea...some great things to be found and somethings that though a great deal you need to pass on.
Also keep in mind that store is designed to make you shop. Ever go in to buy one thing and walk out with 10? Those aisles are narrow for two reasons. 1- they can cram more in per square foot and 2- two carts can hardly pass each other, once there is more than two you are forced to stop and stopping means you have time to look around and hence more ends up in the basket. They are also good at making sure what you usually go in to buy is at the back of the store. This means you will pass by more shelves to get it - increasing your chances to buy more. Same with the way the store is put together. It would make sense to have dish soap and sponges in the same aisle but by separating it by a couple more aisles you will buy more. And that is why they always switch things around, so you have to go looking for it passing more things and this means increased temptations.
Read this article:
They have turned our buying habits into a science. They pay people HUGE amounts of money to get us to buy more.
So after you have hit all the aisles at the dollar store makes sure before you go through the cash you step to the side and go through your cart. Question yourself if you will really use it, how many uses you think you will get out of it and if you can buy a better made product that will have a much longer life for a smaller investment. Try doing this and you will be surprised at just how much you put back.
And a note for those in Canada. Dollarama is set to increase prices in Feb. 2009. They also said many items will not go up in price but I have noticed that package size is already shrinking. Sandwich bags which use to be 60 to a box are now 45 to a box. So though the price will stay the same you won't get as much. So really they are increasing the price but in a sneaky way. They also claim they are raising the prices so they can now afford to bring in a better quality and selection of products. Time will tell on that one...
To read the article go here:
Next up: My 5 favorite web sites (that I am willing to share)

1 comment:

  1. I don't dislike Dollar stores, I just don't go into them very often. I do buy all my cards though in a dollar store, all my wrapping paper and gift cards as well. So they do have their uses. A well written post.