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Best Things to Buy at Dollar Tree Dollar Stores

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05.06.2021

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​Perhaps you have a built-in bias, conception, or what-have-you concerning dollar stores, where everything costs $1 or less. You get what you pay for, right? Nothing but brand-name knock offs or cheap stuff built to not last, you figure.

And, for many products sold at dollar stores, you’re not wrong, as we told you in 18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores.

But there’s also lots of good behind those dollar signs. Analysts note the Dollar Trees of the retail world are widening their selection -- and, with it, their swath of customers. Alongside those with tight budgets, you’ll also find doctors and lawyers and their significant others (as well as ever more millennials) bargain-hunting in the aisles of dollar stores.

The NPD Group, which studies consumer spending for the retail industry, found that 19% of the money spent at dollar stores recently came from households with annual income exceeding $100,000. “Considering that nearly one in five dollars spent there is contributed by the affluent, dollar stores’ value proposition clearly resonates across economic segments,” says NPD’s Andy Mantis.

Another consumer spending tracker, Checkout Tracking, found millennials with annual incomes of $100,000 or more made purchases at these stores nearly 13 times a year and spent more than $135.

We spoke with shopping experts and prowled stores in central Virginia to identify some of the best buys at dollar stores. Take note, however, that our price comparisons aren’t always oranges-to-oranges. Brands and package sizes vary among products stocked by Dollar Tree -- manufacturers do this deliberately -- and those carried by other retailers. Here’s what we found.

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If you, like me, get sticker shock when shopping for greeting cards in the supermarket aisles, Dollar Tree, where every greeting card is $1 or less, is the place to stock up. These aren’t cheap knockoffs, either. They’re mostly from one of two Hallmark card lines, Expressions by Hallmark or Heartline by Hallmark. At a nearby Kroger supermarket, American Greetings cards started at $3.69 to $4.99 per card. At Target and Walmart stores, prices are right in line with that, though you may find a handful of cards at lower prices; not, however, consistently $1.

“Given all the different occasions and situations you can buy a greeting card for, it's no surprise the costs can add up quickly,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with Dealnews. “One card at a standard big box store can set you back $5 or more, depending on how fancy it is. ... The message inside is what matters, so opt for stocking up at your local dollar store -- that way, you'll have them on hand whenever an occasion arises.”

Bonus: The Dollar Tree Hallmark cards don’t have the price on the back, if your card recipient is nosey.

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Pregnancy test kits from the dollar store? You might have your doubts. I did.

Indeed, “paying a buck to see if you might be pregnant seems a risky proposition,” says Kyle James, founder of the shopping deals website RatherBeShopping. “But the tests have been done, and they’re just as good as the $10-$15 variety you’ll find at major drugstores.

We checked those prices. In the pharmacy aisles at Kroger, the least-expensive pregnancy test, the Kroger One-Step, was selling for $7.29 (there were more-expensive brands nearby). At Dollar Tree, the Assured pregnancy test kits, promising “over 99% accuracy,” are $1.

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We’ve noted in the past that candy sometimes isn’t a good deal at dollar stores, especially if you’re going to buy large quantities for the holidays (warehouse clubs have better values). But there are exceptions to that rule, especially when pandemic restrictions at entertainment venues ease even more (I’m looking at you, A Quiet Place Part........

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