Shopping at a Dollar Store? Here are Some Things to Watch Out For

by Miranda Marquit · 84 comments

It’s true that dollar stores have improved greatly in recent years. Dollar stores now carry name brand items in some cases, and you can find a wider selection of grocery-type items.

However, just because dollar stores have improved their offerings doesn’t mean that they are a good idea. Indeed, there are some items that it’s best not to buy at a dollar store. If you are looking to save a few bucks, the dollar store can be a good place to start. However, you do need to be careful. You’re not always getting the best value, no matter how cheap something is.

Concerns about Safety

One of the biggest things you have to worry about is safety. While it’s true that you can find some good deals at the dollar store, not all the items have been properly vetted, and not all of them are safe. Some of the worst offenders when it comes to dollar store shopping include:

  • Electrical products: Not all of them have been properly tested. From lightbulbs to extension cords to lamps, watch out. In some cases, a fake certification might even have been attached to the product. You need to be careful.
  • Toys: Watch out for toys with poor construction that could easily break and choke especially young children. Lead in toys is still a concern, and there might be other toxic materials involved.
  • Food: Double check expiration dates before you buy. It’s fairly common practice to stock dollar store shelves with older food items. You want to be careful.
  • Vitamins: Watch out when it comes to vitamins and health supplements. You need to make sure that they are properly identified, and that they are legitimate. If they aren’t you might find yourself buying something useless — or worse, harmful.

While many cleaning products are likely fine, and it’s hard to go wrong with wrapping paper, double check other items that you want to buy from the dollar store. You want to make sure that they are safe.

Problems with Quality

In other cases, dollar store items may not be problematic in terms of safety, but they may be of low quality. Tools, clothing, and some other items bought at dollar stores may not last very long. If you have to keep going back for more, it might not be worth it to purchase these items at the dollar store. (Keep in mind that even stores with the word “dollar” in them might charge up to $20 per item.) Sometimes, it’s worth it to pay a little more in order to get something of higher quality that will last longer.

It’s true that there are many things we don’t need, and that it isn’t always prudent to spend a lot of money on unnecessary items. A dollar store can provide a way to find good deals and support a frugal lifestyle. However, you still need to be careful. In some cases, cheap is just cheap, and that can lead to safety issues, and problems with quality. As you shop at the dollar store, make sure that you choosing carefully.

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