Ever wonder what products are acceptable to buy at the Dollar Store? Well, I’ve been doing some investigating, and I’ve found that some $1 products are just as good as the name-brand ones. When I say Dollar Store, I’m referring to the specific name of the store. Some dollar stores are Dollar Tree or Under $1. The one I go to specifically is ironically next to ShopRite.
To begin, I’m always skeptical about buying any sort of food at the Dollar Store. One location in my hometown is stocked with canned goods and frozen foods. Even though these foods are “well preserved,” I wouldn’t trust them (even if they are name brands). The only foods I would buy include potato chips, candy, and single-serve sodas.
There are a few products I know for sure are cheaper than (and just as good as) the name-brand products I would normally buy at ShopRite. Here’s my initial list of safe Dollar Store items that will save you a bunch of money. Dollar amounts in italics represent ShopRite prices unless otherwise explained.
1. Storage/Sandwich Bags and Brown Paper Bags- I usually make my lunch three to four times a week, and saving money on disposable items like sandwich bags is ideal. Plastic sandwich bags are good for other things, too, like transporting coupons, makeup that’s too messy for your bag, and keeping things dry. In the same sense, brown paper bags have multiple uses as well. I grew up using a lunchbox, but now that I’m a young professional and see others using brown paper bags, I’ve caught onto the concept.
Sandwich bags: $2.19 Brown paper bags: $1.39 for 50-count ($1, 100-count)
2. Nail Polish and Remover- Stop spending extra money for nail polish remover when they all do the same thing (and have the same ingredients). ShopRite sometimes has deals on it, but it’s almost never $0.99. The Dollar-Store version is just as good as the name brand. Nail polish is my absolute favorite thing in the entire world. There have been a few Dollar Store brands that have led me astray, but for the most part, they all work the same. (Some of them are too thin, so I’d have to paint 10 layers before it looked like the color in the bottle.)
Nail polish remover: $1.89 Nail polish: $3-$7
3. Cotton Balls and Q-Tips- These are two basic necessities in any household. Not only can you use cotton balls to clean wounds, but you can also use them to remove makeup, nail polish, and other messes. Dollar Store cotton balls are about the same density as name-brand ones, but the cheaper Q-tips are thinner on the cotton. It doesn’t make a big difference to me—they still get the job done. I use Q-tips for makeup removal and to clean my ears.
Cotton balls: $1.39 Q-tips: $3.16
4. First Aid- This includes Band-Aids (yes, a name-brand product at the Dollar Store), antibiotic cream (works the same as Neosporin), rubbing alcohol, and elastic bandages (works the same as Ace bandages). These products all work the same as the name brands but are significantly cheaper. I’ve noticed that non-Band-Aid-brand bandages will fall off easily because the adhesive isn’t strong enough to endure water.
Band-Aids: $2.89 Neosporin: $7.99 Rubbing Alcohol: $1.39 Ace Bandages: $4.99
5. Paper Products- Products like paper towels, napkins, and tissues are OK in my book. They’re a little rougher than the name brand but still work just as well. I would stay away from any toilet paper that might be sold for $1, though. That can’t be too pleasant. Any kind of throw-away eatery is OK as well. I usually buy all of my party supplies at the Dollar Store because you can find a box of 25 forks/knives/spoons for $1. That’s a great deal. Paper plates are also a good buy, especially when you need a large quantity for a party.
Paper plates: $5.99 for 72-count Napkins: $3.69 for 200-count Plastic cups: $4.29 for 50-count
Tissues: $2.29 for 210-count Paper towels: $7.59 for six-count
6. Birthday Stuff- If you need a birthday card on-the-run, pick up a cute $1 card. Stores usually have a large selection to choose from, no matter who you’re shopping for. I wouldn’t suggest buying any “presents” from the Dollar Store, as most of the children’s toys might not be safe (because of the small pieces or the material they’re made out of), but they have a variety of helium balloons that will complement your card well.
Birthday cards: $5-$8
7. Hair Care- I love the hair ties I can find at the Dollar Store. You can’t find Ouchless for $1, but the imitation brand works just as well. Bobby pins, little hair clips and rubber bands, and even headbands are all good buys from the Dollar Store. You can get 100 bobby pins for $1. Both brand-name and $1 bobby pins are made of metal with rubber tips to prevent scratching your scalp and pulling your hair. I’ve also found my favorite hairspray at the Dollar Store: White Rain’s Aerosol Super Hold. I would skip the shampoos and conditioners; they dry out your hair more than anything. (The cheaper brands use cheaper ingredients so your hair won’t get treated as it would if you used a moisturizing shampoo/conditioner.)
Conair bobby pins: $2.49 Goody ponytail holders: $3.49
8. Arts and Crafts- Some Dollar Stores carry arts and crafts supplies, like glitter, buttons, shaped hole punches for scrapbooking, etc. You may even get lucky and find artificial flowers for planter displays, glass beads, vases, or other little knick-knacks for do-it-yourself projects. Usually I would go to Walmart for art supplies, so the below dollar amounts reflect Walmart prices.
Hand punches hole puncher (for scrapbooking): $6-$9 Flower arrangements: $20-$100+
Luster gems, one pound: $9.38 Glitter shakers variety 6-pk: $2.97
9. Decorations- If you’re like me, you hate spending a lot of money on holiday decorations (especially since I decorate my cube at work now). Dollar stores are good for picking up cheap but cute cardboard cutouts for different holidays and even little knick-knacks for your desk or to put around your house. I’ve never bought string lights from the Dollar Store, and I’m not sure I should. Light-up decorations are a little bit more expensive, but at least you can reuse them year after year. Walmart carries cheap string lights and/or light-up decorations for your lawn for a reasonable price.
10. Housewares- Some Dollar Stores have a wide selection of housewares, such as spatulas, large mixing spoons, and bowls. These are all safe to buy for $1 and considerably savvy. Consider yourself lucky to have a Dollar Store that offers such a good discount! I’ve even gotten some of my silverware and plates from there. I’m a klutz when it comes to glassware, so I buy cheap to replace cheap.
Can opener: $7.49 Tongs: $3.29 Wisk: $2.29 Spatula: $4.99 Plates (8): $15.92 ($1.99 each)
While there are plenty of products that I recommend buying from the Dollar Store to save money, there are products that I warn you to stay away from at the same time. In the coming weeks, I will compile a list of “stay away” items. If you have any suggestions for me to investigate, please comment below!