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The Dollar Store Dilemma: Beating Deceptive Discounts Found In These Bargain Basements

25th Sep 2015

In a recent online blog post, during the aftermath of our post-apocalyptic back-to-school shopping sprees, the reward building and money saving website “Fat Wallet” highlighted a great article on how to “Shop the Dollar Store to Decorate Your Dorm Room.” for our college kids. Believe me you, there’s many ways to save at these big buck bargain outlets, whose locations seem to be springing up almost everywhere nowadays, but there’s also some late-autumn traps to avoid when pursuing and purchasing from these bargain basement locations.


With Halloween right around the corner, we’re all looking to stock up on some sugary sweets for those cute little trick-or-treaters who come pounding on our doors, but be careful to avoid some dollar-store dilemmas the majority of these locations. While this buck-a-bag store seems like a good deal when stocking up on candy, check the sizes and brands carefully when it compares to your local grocer.


The lure and allure of these stock-up-and-save stores comes when we see items that are only a dollar, therefore they seem like a great bargain, but they can actually cost more in the long run. Think of it this way, a small bag of generic treats at the dollar store may (or may not be) a good buy compared to name-brand candies on sale at our neighborhood grocery store.

National chains will stock up significantly and offer specials on seasonal items, like Halloween candy. Large bags at these big grocers are pricing their bags at three or four dollars, which can pale in comparison to some of the tiny sacks of off-brand treats that the dollar store is offering. You have to weigh (literally) the amount that you’re buying against the bulk that you are receiving.


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Food isn’t necessarily the best place where we should be seeking significant savings at these stores. For example, “hard” items like dishware, towels, picture frames and other household items are definitely a bargain at a buck a crack, but off-name food items that can be less than delectable aren’t necessarily so enticing.

Strange and unknown brands of perishable products can be out-of-code date and not especially appetizing. That’s exactly why these dollar stores can purchase them in bulk and deliver these products at these such significant savings. Be aware and look at the labels carefully!


Personally, I won’t buy certain items unless they’re brand name products due to quality, taste, consistency and durability, dependent upon that particular item. For example, Kraft ® brand macaroni and cheese tastes a thousand times better than many of the generic substitutes.

On the other hand, even though some commercials can be quite deceptive about the quality and power of their products, Dawn ® dishwashing soap really delivers when compared to the competition. A drop of this particular cleansing liquid really does blow away the cheapy-weepy bargain detergent products sold by their side. So the solution is simple really, I just wait until these brand-names go on sale and stock-up, like any good Mom would.


It would seem that “extreme couponing,” a full-time job all in itself (not to mention the space required to store all those ill-gotten gains), may be on the down low and declining in popularity, it doesn’t stop me from using them from time-to-time. But keeping an eye on prices, getting the best bang for our shopping buck isn’t that difficult in comparison. By all means, shop the dollar stores, but keep in mind some important differences in their products when it comes to sizes and brands.


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