When you think of your local dollar store, you probably think of all the plastic and cheaply made crap they sell. Dollar stores aren’t exactly known for their high quality merchandise, and they certainly don’t aim at the environmentally friendly market. With that in mind, is there ever a good reason to shop at one?
I’ve found a few. They’re strictly limited, and I believe that if you can afford better options, do so. But sometimes even when you’re green you do what you have to do.
While much of what the typical dollar store carries is low quality, there are some reasonable things to buy there. Just what depends on which one you shop at.
I’ve found coloring books and workbooks for my kids at the one by me. These are things I can’t get at the library since the kids need to color or write in them. We don’t use a lot of coloring books as my kids would mostly rather draw their own pictures, but sometimes they want a coloring book.
The one by me also carries a lot of canned food. While I prefer to avoid canned foods, preferring fresh or frozen, for those things that I do buy in cans the price is often – not always- better than for the same thing at the grocery store. That means a lot when you’re on a tight budget.
The dollar store by me also carries fresh produce. Well, barely fresh produce. Sometimes it’s even organic. On a budget, buying produce that you know you need to use right away isn’t a bad thing, so long as you do use it. You have to be extremely picky to find the packages that have food in good condition, as too often the fruits and vegetables have already started to go bad.
That may sound gross, but there’s usually plenty of produce that is just fine.
What Shouldn’t You Buy at the Dollar Store?
If your goal is to be eco friendly, then the answer is “most of what they offer.”
Dollar stores serve a purpose, certainly. They sell a lot of stuff that didn’t sell at other stores. Most of it is things you really don’t need. Most of it is not remotely eco friendly.
The one by me sells tons of plastic containers. They have a lot of conventional cleaning supplies. They sell a lot of little party favors for gift bags. They sell a lot of cheap personal care items.
If you have a need, that’s one thing. But make sure it’s a need before you start buying even the highly discounted stuff at these stores.
If you need containers, for example, visit your local thrift shop, swap meet or garage sales first. You might luck into some cheap glass storage containers and get to avoid the plastic.
Much of your cleaning can be done with baking soda and vinegar, which are much cheaper when you buy them in bulk than what you’re likely to find at any dollar store.
If you’re throwing a party for one of your kids, skip the plastic party favors. If you really need to give the guests something, have it be a craft they can do at the party. We had a blast one year with the kids planting seeds in little pots they could take home. They loved it.
Think about where you’re spending your money. For a lot of reasons, the dollar store isn’t my first choice for shopping. But if you keep it sensible and really need the assist on your budget, do what you have to do. Just avoid the junk.