Dollar stores lure us in with rock-bottom prices. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but often the things they sell are good products at a tremendous discount — a real bargain.
Here’s what bargain-shopping experts say are good buys at dollar stores (as opposed to just cheap buys).
1. Greeting cards
There is no reason to spend $5 or more on a greeting card when dollar stores typically have a wide selection available for a buck or less. You might not get textured paper or fancy extras such as ribbon, but the heartfelt message you write will be the same regardless of how expensive the card looks.
2. Party supplies
By some estimates, you can save up to 70 percent by using party supplies from a dollar store. Get plastic tablecloths, paper plates and cups, streamers and favors from the dollar store and save a bundle. Don’t forget to look for Mylar/foil balloons, too. These are an absolute bargain and can easily sell for five times as much elsewhere.
3. Gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper
While you’re getting your party supplies, look for gift bags and wrapping paper, too. You could end up paying two or three times more for gift bags and boxes at other stores. In addition, wrapping paper can be a steal. You might not get the same thickness as with expensive paper, but for something that’s going to end up in the trash, why pay more?
4. Seasonal decor
From extra ornaments for your Christmas tree to a scarecrow to stake in your front yard for the fall, dollar stores can have a surprisingly robust selection of seasonal decor. Pick up some bargain-priced items to decorate your house for less. But stay away from holiday lights; they have a poor track record of safety at discount stores.
5. Reading glasses
As we age, we often lose elasticity in our eyes, and that makes it more difficult to focus on close objects. In many cases, a simple pair of reading glasses is all you need, and the reading glasses at dollar stores are as good as those found in other stores. However, if you have trouble seeing at a distance, it may be time to schedule an eye exam and see about getting a prescription pair.
6. Hair accessories
From headbands to bobby pins, you can find hair accessories at a fraction of the price at dollar stores. Combs and brushes can be a bargain, too.
7. Pregnancy tests
Grocery store pregnancy tests will set you back $10 to $15, but you can find them at some dollar stores for only a buck. (Note: Pregnancy tests do expire after two to three years.)
8. Vases and decorative bowls
Don’t bother with other stores for vases and decorative bowls. The dollar store probably carries a number of styles at a price that can’t be beat. You can use vases to skip the florist and make your own, much cheaper arrangements. Or spruce up decorative glass bowls to make inexpensive gifts for family or friends.
9. Mugs and glasses
Like vases and bowls, mugs and glasses are also a good buy at dollar stores. The quality is comparable to what you might get at Walmart or other mass merchandisers. As a bonus, you can typically buy only the items you need rather than being forced to purchase a set.
Dollar stores also often have a nice selection of open-stock dishware. This isn’t going to be top-of-the-line quality, but they’re perfectly serviceable pieces. For those with little kids, dollar store dishes can be just what you need to get you through that phase of life when something seems to get broken in the kitchen on a weekly basis.
11. Storage containers
Plastic storage containers also get a thumbs up when it comes to great dollar store buys. In the grocery store, you can easily pay up to $5 for disposable containers. Get them for a buck at the dollar store instead. You can also find some great deals on storage bags, but be wary of off-brands that may not seal correctly.
12. Picture frames
If you’re crafty, dollar store picture frames are an excellent buy. With a little paint or other decoration, bargain frames can look as nice on your walls as their more expensive counterparts. However, quality can vary widely. Check the joints to make sure they are secure and look for stray glue that may be difficult to remove.
13. Bagged or boxed candy
Checkout lane candy will likely be just as cheap, if not cheaper, at the grocery store, but movie theater-style boxed candy and bagged candy can be a bargain at the dollar store. Next Halloween, head there for your treats rather than paying supermarket prices.
Much of the clothing you find at dollar stores is of an inferior quality and not worth the money. One exception may be socks. Dollar store socks can be as good as department store varieties if you buy the right type. Look for ones made with acrylic or spandex for a comfy fit.
15. Washcloths and dish towels
Finally, the price of washcloths and dishtowels at the dollar store can’t be beat. You need to be careful with some towels that won’t be absorbent enough to dry dishes. However, even those work great as cleaning rags.
Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below or go to our Facebook page to tell us what you think are the best buys at the dollar store.
This article was originally published on MoneyTalksNews.com as '15 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store'.