Four Dollar Store Myths Debunked
First published on Moneyville June 20, 2011
I started shopping at and writing about dollar stores more than five years ago. Once I stepped inside one of these shops and realized all of the money I could save, I was hooked and, being a writer, I wanted to share what I had discovered.
Over time, there’s been a recurring theme in reader complaints about dollar store merchandise. It’s true that some things sold at dollar stores are cheap and fall apart quickly. But, you can also get great deals on items you would pay double or triple for elsewhere — like kitchen utensils, stationery supplies and craft needs. So why pay more?
Here are the five of the most common complaints I’ve heard and why they aren’t true.
1. All dollar store merchandise comes from China and is junk or unsafe.
A lot of dollar store stock also comes from Turkey, Germany or even the United States and Canada and is exceptional value for a buck or two. From time to time, you’ll find Libbey stemware on dollar-store shelves. I recently purchased a glass measuring cup manufactured by Anchor Hocking. And it isn’t uncommon to find full-sized deodorants like Speed Stick and Arm & Hammer in the health and beauty aisle.
Even so, China exports billions worth of merchandise to the U.S. and Canada. Even excluding all of the machinery, electronics and other expensive items, dollar stores aren’t the only ones selling Chinese merchandise. The princess figurine I brought back from Disney World a few years ago was made in China, as are most of this American icon’s souvenirs.
Bottom line: If you are concerned about food or plastic products from China at the dollar store or anywhere else, don’t buy them.
2. Cookies, crackers and are stale and chocolate bars have passed their best before date.
There is no proof of this. Dollar-store buyers develop relationships with manufacturers and are on the spot to snap up overstock. If you’ve be stung before, do what you would do in any other store — check the best-before date. How long would customers keep buying the candy if everything they bought turned out to be stale?
3. You can’t get good batteries at the dollar store.
While this may have been true in the past, the dollar stores with which I’m familiar now sell brand-name batteries like Panasonic and Sunbeam. Since adding products priced up to $2, I’ve even seen Duracell batteries at Dollarama. Again, if you’re leery, check the best-before date, which is printed in bold on the lower right-hand side of the package.
4. There must be something wrong with brand-name beauty products if they end up in a dollar store.
A Unilever Canada rep confirmed a Dove Energy Glow product bought at my local dollar store was their product, made in Canada. How did it get there? Dollar-store buyers sometimes nab some amazing products from big manufacturers.