Comparison of Prices for My Purchases at the Dollar Store

Think those dollar stores are only full of useless junk you don’t really need in the first place? Guess again. I too used to think that, until I stopped into a local Dollar Tree the other day on the advice of my grandmother, who wanted me to pick up some holiday wrapping paper for her. I had never thought of checking out one of those stores for much of anything, but she insisted that I stop there to buy the paper she needed. Once inside, I thought I had hit the jackpot, as they had tons of products priced at just $1 that I normally buy at my local drug or big-box stores for much more money.

On this visit to the Dollar Tree I managed to spend a grand total of just $12, and came out of the store with the following items, each priced at $1:

  • A two-pack of Colgate Classic soft-bristle toothbrushes, as ours were almost ground down to nubs.
  • A cotton knee support for my aging runner knees.
  • Travel first aid kit for keeping in the truck, just in case.
  • Adhesive Bandages, 100-ct. box of assorted sizes. When can you ever have too many bandages in your house?
  • 35-sq. ft of aluminum foil wrap, for wrapping up those leftovers.
  • A 10-ct. pack of PaperMate Write Bros. recycled-plastic ball point pens, because even though I work mostly online I still need to jot down notes from time to time
  • GoodSense fold-top sandwich bags, 120 pack.
  • A pair of microfiber dish scrubber sponges. These are great to have because you can wash them in the dishwasher when they get grubby, unlike regular sponges which you would just throw away.
  • A set of 2 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper for grandma.
  • Two gift bags for me to put to my grab-bag presents in.

Can you believe I spent only $12 for all that stuff? I am not normally one to buy a bunch of items on a single trip to a store, but I just could not believe that these types of stores have name-brand, much-needed merchandise in them. And because I know that I saved a ton of money over a trip to the local drugstore, I wanted to compare the price I would have paid had I skipped the Dollar Tree and stopped into CVS instead. So now let’s take a look at equivalent items for sale at CVS:

  • One Colgate soft full-size toothbrush – $1.99 each, so $3.98 total.
  • Futuro knee support – $11.29
  • CVS first aid kit – $9.99
  • CVS bandages, assorted sizes, 30-ct. – $3.29, so $10.97 total to make it almost 100 pieces
  • CVS Aluminum Foil 75 Sq Ft – $4.39. Since this is double the size of the roll I bought, will cut this price in half to $2.20.
  • Pack of 10 Papermate Red Ball Point Pens- $2.19
  • CVS Fold & Close Top Sandwich Bags, 150 pack – $2.99
  • Package of two Scotch-Brite scrub sponges – $4.19
  • Two rolls of Christmas wrapping paper – $1.99 each, so $3.98 total
  • Two gift bags – $1.99 each, so $3.98 total

So, I am sure you must be wondering what the grand total is for all those items were you to buy them at CVS. Hold on to your hats, because it comes out to $55.76, or $43.76 more than they would have cost if you had found them at a dollar store. How is that for saving a ton of money on everyday items we all often stock up on without even giving the cost much thought? If you were able to make a few trips a year to a local dollar store rather than where you typically buy these type of items, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars over the course of twelve months.

In this economy, more dollar stores are popping up all over the country, so chances are you have at least one close to you. There are many different stores out there operating under different names, but some good ones to start with include Dollar Tree, Dollar General, $.99 Only Store, and Family Dollar. I truly thought these were stores full of items that absolutely no one ever needed, but my thinking was far from the truth. With some selective shopping, you can definitely make a dollar-type store work in your favor, saving yourself a small fortune in the process.

Do you shop at your local dollar store? Or do you avoid them like the plague? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Comments (16)

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  1. Bill Swan says:

    And believe it or not, there is a difference between dollar stores too. Dollar General is better than Family Dollar around here. And both are local. There is also a small old dollar store with the type of stuff you describe that no one wants; but they also get huge traffic from their frozen food section.

  2. average guy says:

    Wife and I shop at the local “99 Cents Store” just about once a week. Fruit, some veggies, all sorts of dry goods, books (we love Sudoku), miscellaneous stuff. All worth the trip.

  3. David says:

    Just an FYI, we just saw pregnancy tests at our local store. Talk about a bargain off the retail price!

  4. Mario says:

    I only purchase SOME items from dollar stores. Some are cheaper than supermarkets when examined closely.

    I’ve gotten paper towels at the dollar store for a dollar. But beware, sometimes it’s just 50 sheets for a dollar, where sometimes you can get 80 sheets for a dollar at a supermarket.

    Don’t just think that because it’s $1, it’s an automatic bargain.

    But I do go to a Dollar Tree that has 100-count for $1, and paper towel doesn’t have to be high end for me.

    Toilet paper, whole different story.

  5. marcy says:

    I have a college aged son who is in his own apartment and likes to cook- for Christmas I stocked his kitchen with utensils, cleaning products, and storage containers (filled with food stuff)- I spent $20 for everything minus the food stuff at the Dollar tree.

  6. ConcordMike says:

    I avoided 99 cent stores and dollar tree for years due to pride. Someone showed me something they bought there so I decided to check it out. There are some pretty amazing deals there, but like the other comments, some items seem like a bargain, but you can actually buy them cheaper at discount food markets, i.e. FoodMaxx, Grocery Outlet, Winco, etc.
    Luckily we have one of the best 99 cent stores near us which has produce and a huge food section. My wife and I can have a four course meal for about $2.00.

  7. Jamie says:

    Great comparisons. That’s an even more dramatic savings than I suspected. I, too, avoided Dollar Stores for the longest time and now there are definitely certain times when I seek them out. They have a lot of great little things to give kids to keep them entertained for a long car ride…coloring books, mazes, easy sodoku. Great items for stocking stuffers around the holidays, as well.

  8. lucas0921 says:

    As previously mentioned, don’t give up on dollar stores if the first one you visit isn’t that great. Visit several when you are first starting out….

  9. Jonathan says:

    In the UK we have the equivalent which is a pound store and I totally agree that they are an excellent place to pick up bargains! Often they’ll buy in bulk so the quality of the stock is actually much better than you’d imagine

  10. Rich says:

    I never shopped at dollar stores until recently either. I’ve saved plenty of $$ on cleaning supplies, wrapping paper, toiletries etc. But be careful: like any place else, you need to watch price per oz/ or item count to make sure you’re getting the best deal. For some items, like Colgate shaving, cream I’ve found that the dollar store version has fewer ounces than what you find at Walmart and that, per oz, it’s cheaper at Walmart.

    Between Costco, Walmart, and dollar stores my family has been able to keep costs down during this recession! I’ll be shopping this way from now on.

  11. I Buchanan says:

    The Dollar General has $5 off $25 almost every week usually on Saturday. It is printed at the bottom of the receipt upto a week before the sale. You can give them this coupon first and use manufacturers coupons after. I get alot of my cleaning supplies and toiletries this way

  12. Only Faith Left says:

    Love the Dollar Tree for holiday decorations, and gift wrap. I also buy some Christmas wrapping paper that isn’t too Christmassy looking for birthdays through the year – solid colors, stripes, etc. You get much more than buying special occasion gift wrap. Also great for packing, kids crafts, etc!

  13. Only Faith Left says:

    By the way I avoid shopping at places like CVS like the plague. Their prices are ridiculously high. Walmart is still the place to go for my family for almost everything. Some items like shampoos, dish soap, and snacks are even cheaper than the Dollar Tree, at .79-.99!

  14. Summer C says:

    I LOVE the dollar store. You literally can find anything in therefor a dollar. Well I have shopped at a regular dollar store and prices can go up to 8 or 6 bucks at a time. BUT, if you shop at a Dollar Tree, everything is a dollar..LITERALLY. I have baught balloons, shampoo, food, cooking utensils, dog food. You name it they have it. Really good for college students who are away from their folks. Saving money pays off in the end anyways.

  15. Great post! We use the Dollar Store all the time for items like batteries, wrapping paper, and cards. Another great thing they have are birthday and celebration balloons, so you can use them (and their other party supplies) to throw a party. Often, your local Dollar Store will sell the Sunday newspaper (the one with all those coupons and savings…), so if you subscribe just for the Sunday paper, think twice about stopping by the Dollar Store to get a cheap copy!

    So many people overlook the true savings you can really get at a place like this.

  16. kay says:

    I get all kinds of holiday decorations at Dollar Tree. Love it. Also my kitchen utensils and various odds and ends. At Dollar General I get pain and cold meds, cleaning products and season decorations. And they both take coupons. Love these stores, can’t stand Wal-mart.