The Best (And Worst) Things to Buy at the Dollar Store

line of shopping carts

Look out; inflation has even hit the dollar store. Items that were once a dollar now cost $1.25. The dollar store is still chock-full of good buys, though. For strategic shoppers, it’s possible to use the dollar store to buy needed items at really low prices. However, not every item at the dollar store is a smart shopping choice. For example, packages at the dollar store are often smaller than they are at traditional grocery or big box stores. So although the price looks cheaper, you often end up paying more per ounce than you would if you purchased the same product elsewhere. In a time when we are all trying to make our money stretch as far as it can, every ounce does count. Knowing what to buy, and what not to buy, at the dollar store will help frugal shoppers make the most of their budgets.

Buy These at the Dollar Store


  • Balloons: Since balloons aren’t meant to last and since most dollar store packages of balloons are bigger than the ones you can buy at party supplies stores they are the perfect item to grab at the dollar store and save some cash!
  • Bar Glasses: Many people are moving away from using disposable products when they host. Dollar store glassware is the perfect replacement for the ubiquitous red plastic party cup. The glasses are minimalist and sturdy, but at such a low price point, you won’t be upset if one gets broken during a backyard barbeque.
  • Beach Toys: Vacationing at the shore? Pick up shovels and pails at the local dollar store instead of at a pricy beachfront souvenir shop. You’ll save money and won’t have any regrets when you have to leave the sand toys behind at the end of your vacation.
  • Books: Dollar stores buy up remainders from publishers. These books are often written by famous authors or even won awards, but the publisher made too many copies. Their loss is your gain since it means you can score $30 hardbacks for a buck twenty-five.
  • Cleaning Supplies: TikTok is full of videos about the amazing cleaning products stocked by dollar stores. There’s a leave-in toilet bowl cleaner they particularly love. You don’t have to be on TikTok to find great buys that will help you get your home clean and fresh without breaking the bank.
  • Crafting Items: From basic white tee shirts for tye-dying to metal cookie sheets to turn into magnetic boards, the dollar store has items that many popular craft projects need.
  • Coffee Filters: The dollar store packages of filters usually are larger than other stores, and they are cheaper! A total win-win.
  • Disposable Party Supplies: Dollar stores typically put a lot of thought into their seasonal supplies, and it shows! They are a great place to get disposable plates, napkins, cups, and even items like paper streamers for holiday or birthday parties.
  • Flower Pots: Unglazed terra cotta pots sell for around ten bucks at garden centers, but at the dollar store you can buy them for the low price of $1.25 each!
  • Gift Bags: Dollar store wrapping paper isn’t a good deal, but most stores have a great selection of seasonal bags along with ones with licensed characters for kids. They are typically sturdy and far cheaper than you can buy them anywhere else.
  • Greeting Cards: Buying greeting cards at discount stores is surprisingly expensive! Cards of a similar quality go for two for $1.25 at the dollar store.
  • Hairpins: The typical pack of hairpins at the dollar store has seventy-two bobby pins inside. It’s a great deal on a simple product that most people with longer hair need at some point.
  • Pregnancy Tests: This shocks a lot of people, but dollar-store pregnancy tests are beloved by infertility bloggers and other people who want to test frequently. The tests are simpler than their pharmacy counterparts, but are just as accurate and much cheaper.
  • Reading Glasses: Dollar store glasses probably aren’t sturdy enough to be your everyday pair, but for people who lose theirs often or like to have pairs stashed in various places they do the trick.
  • Sponges: Since it’s suggested that you throw away tattered or stained sponges, it’s a great idea to pick them up at low price at the dollar store.
  • Stationery: Basic stationery, like envelopes, is an absolute steal at the dollar store. Expect to get around forty basic white letter-sized envelopes in each box!
  • Vases: The dollar store has many cool home decor finds, but their vases tend to be sleek and perfect for people who want to make up their own floral arrangements.

Skip These at the Dollar Store

wrapped gifts

  • Batteries: Dollar store batteries might be labeled “heavy duty”, but almost all batteries sold at the dollar store, even those sporting brand names, are carbon-zinc batteries. Not only do carbon-zinc batteries not last as long as alkaline batteries, but they are also more likely to leak or explode.
  • Beauty Products: Name-brand beauty products can often be great buys at the dollar store. Typically, they are discontinued colors or products. Off-brand skin care products from the dollar store carry a risk, especially for products containing SPF. There’s no telling how old the product is or how it was made.
  • Electronics: Charging and extension cords are often available at the dollar store. However, it’s a good idea to invest a little more in sturdier cords so that you know won’t damage your devices or your outlets.
  • Food: Packaged or perishable food is a questionable purchase at the dollar store. Often food is more expensive at the dollar store versus the grocery store because dollar store packages are smaller.
  • Plastic Food Storage Containers: Plastic at the dollar store isn’t likely to be BPA-free or otherwise safe to microwave.
  • School Supplies: The price is right on dollar store school supplies but often, that low price comes at the cost of quality. Also, cheap products can cost more in the long run if you keep having to replace the supplies because they can’t stand up to daily use.
  • Tools: A poorly made tool can hurt someone or cause property damage. A badly made screwdriver, wrench, or even paintbrush is also just plain frustrating to use.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins and supplements can be expensive, but the fact you can’t be certain of exactly what quality you are getting at the dollar store means it’s a good idea to skip them.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid: The good news is that buying fluid at a big box or auto parts store is only going to cost you a couple more dollars than buying it at the dollar store, and you’ll be purchasing a much better product. Dollar store washer fluid doesn’t have anti-freezing elements in its recipe. Not only does that mean the fluid can freeze on your windshield during the winter, but it can also freeze in the tank which can lead to a very expensive car repair bill.
  • Wrapping Paper: Dollar stores are often great places to save on holiday items, but this doesn’t include wrapping paper. Dollar store wrapping paper is usually fragile, which means it will tear easily. You also don’t get much paper per roll, meaning it usually works out cheaper, in the long run, to buy a roll of reasonably priced paper from a traditional retail outlet.

You might also like...