I grew up in the Midwest, where dollar stores are a way of life. When I moved away, I quickly found out that it’s pretty much the same everywhere else. If you’re new to dollar store shopping, you should know that cheap doesn’t always mean low quality. There are tons of staples you should always buy at a dollar store to make sure you’re not overpaying. Below, I’ve rounded up my favorites to help save you time and money.
Where to Shop?
Dollar General and Dollar Tree are both Rakuten partners, so you can earn Cash Back on top of already great prices. Shop online and pick up in store or curbside, and make sure to check Rakuten for special coupons as well.
What to Buy at a Dollar Store?
1. Gift Bags
Have you ever noticed how expensive gift bags are? Most of us don’t because they’re an impulse buy at the grocery store. Bags can start at $5 and go up depending on the size and design. I like to stock up on them at the dollar store so I always have some on hand for a special occasion. In most cases, you can get several at a dollar store for the price of one elsewhere.
2. Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper is another item that’s too expensive anywhere but a dollar store. It’s incredible how much other stores charge for a single-use item. When you’re shopping for wrapping paper at a dollar store, pay attention to how much each roll contains. Although it’s still a great value, dollar store rolls often will contain three-quarters of what you’d get elsewhere.
3. Party Supplies
When you think of dollar stores, you instantly think of party supplies—and for good reason. Most dollar stores are filled to the brim with balloons, tablecloths, plates, cups, utensils and more. It’s a great place to get the most for your party budget, especially if that budget is limited.
4. Seasonal Decor
When seasons change, it’s fun to swap out your decorations and add something fresh to your space. Believe it or not, a dollar store is a good place to find seasonal decorations and trinkets on a budget.
5. Greeting Cards
Greeting cards can get expensive quickly, especially if you have many birthdays or anniversaries coming up. And don’t even get me started on wedding season. Dollar stores generally have assorted packs of greeting cards so you can get a card for every occasion in one swoop.
You’ll find a lot of containers and vessels such as vases and glass centerpieces for a steal at your local dollar store. Whether you’re buying for your home or an event such as a wedding or graduation party, dollar stores will have what you need.
7. Outdoor Dining Sets
You can certainly find single-use plates, cups and utensils at any dollar store, but I’ve also found reusable plastic sets that are perfect for outdoor entertaining. You won’t have to worry about damaging your nice plates and silverware, and you can get enough for a large group on a budget.
8. Notebooks and Pens
If you’re an avid note-taker, a dollar store is a good place to find an entire stack of notebooks at a discount. You can also get a few boxes of pens for half the price they’d be anywhere else. You’re not going to find fancy notebooks, but at the end of the day you won’t overpay for a little blank paper and some ink.
Reading glasses, or “readers,” are cheap and plentiful at dollar stores everywhere. Other stores mark them up quite a bit, so you’re better off shopping for them exclusively at dollar stores. Readers are often lost or broken, so why spend a fortune on them?
10. Cleaning Supplies
Your mileage may vary with this one. Generally, dollar stores will have cleaning supplies and accessories such as buckets, sponges, spray bottles and rags. There’s no sense in paying a lot of money for items that are going to get dirty or damaged anyway.
These are my picks for staples you should always buy at a dollar store, but there are plenty of other items to choose from. One of the best parts about dollar store shopping is you never know what you’ll find.