WHAT ITEMS SHOULD YOU AVOID PURCHASING AT THE DOLLAR STORE?
If you’re like me, you enter the dollar store intending to quickly grab a few things. Instead, you end up slowly roaming the aisles, checking out absolutely everything. After all, who wants to miss any of their amazing $1 deals! But before you head to the checkout, consider this:
A good chef’s knife doesn’t come cheap! Although you might be tempted to pick up an inexpensive blade or two at the dollar store, just remember that you get what you pay for. Good knives are expensive for a good reason. You’re paying for quality, which is something a dollar store knife is just not known for. Because dull blades are more difficult to use, safety is also an issue with these knives. You’re better off passing on these knives and investing in a sharp knife that will last you a lifetime.
Plastic Food Containers
Especially if you are in the habit of microwaving food in plastic containers or putting them in the dishwasher (both of which I advise against), do not buy plastic containers at the dollar store. The quality may be substandard.
Plastic Kitchen Utensils
Anything that touches your food should be safe and nontoxic. While the plastic cooking utensils you buy from the dollar store may look harmless, they could contain questionable chemicals like brominated flame retardants, which have been linked to serious health issues. Instead, purchase metal, bamboo, or BPA-free plastic spatulas and spoons from a trusted retail brand.
Oven Mitts and Pads
These kitchen helpers have one job and that is to protect your hands and fingers from intense heat. Unfortunately, many dollar store mitts and pads are made of from thin, inferior material that can’t protect your hands or fingers from the heat. If you can’t resist picking up a cute seasonal pair, consider using them only as decorative items.
Perishable & Packaged Foods
When it comes to bargain shopping, the dollar store may sound like a one-stop shop for inexpensive food. But is it really? While purchasing otherwise expensive food products for merely a buck it doesn’t come without a catch. While it’s not all bad, freshness and quality can be questionable, so I would suggest proceeding with caution. Check expiration dates and ingredients and inspect for damage before purchasing. One dollar a can sounds like an easy way to pinch pennies, but really, it’s not. Grocery stores often have canned goods on sale for less. In some cases, you may actually be spending more if you’re buying your canned goods from the dollar store. Condiments are another item that you may be paying more for at the dollar store. Items like ketchup and mustard often sell for less than a dollar at other stores. This is also true for gum and the packages are often smaller than those at your local grocery store. It’s all about price comparison, not about spending only a buck.
Think of what the average price of quality meat is at your local grocery store and one has to wonder what the dollar store meat is really made from. According to one news station who tested it out, dollar store steak is USA beef, but it’s the utility cut. The same low-grade beef that’s often served in many public school cafeterias. And anyone who has eaten in a school cafeteria can probably tell you the much of the food is not the créme de la créme. So while the price may be right, the quality is definitely lacking. Another item to stay away from is chips. Some items at the dollar store give you more bang for your buck, but chips are not one of them. To make up for a lower price, the net weight of a bag of chips is often much smaller. By checking the net weight and doing a little math, you can determine what store has the best deal.
While buying a box of cereal for $1 sounds like a good deal, you should be cautious when you see off-brand cereal boxes on dollar store shelves. According to Reader’s Digest, generic brands at the dollar store are likely there because other stores had a hard time moving the product. Plus the boxes of cereal at the dollar store tend to be smaller than what you typically buy at the grocery store. Smaller boxes with less flavor, not exactly a good bargain.
There’s a reason you’re able to find inexpensive electronic accessories in dollar stores, they aren’t made well! From extension cords to phone chargers, these products just don’t meet the same standards as the ones made by the companies we’re are all familiar with. You should avoid purchasing things like power strips, USBs, chargers, earbuds, or anything else that you plug into your beloved smart device at the dollar store. Not only do dollar store electronic accessories break quickly, but they can also end up damaging your phone, computer, television, and more. Don’t risk damaging them, spend a little extra money on a trusted brand rather than risk it.
Batteries from the dollar store aren’t as effective as the ones you’ll find in other retail stores for a couple of reasons. First of all, dollar store batteries are often older than the ones you find in other retail stores. Secondly, generic batteries are typically made from carbon zinc, which doesn’t last as long as lithium, the preferred ingredient in name brand batteries. Also, another problem is that these batteries are more likely to leak, which can damage your device. You’re better off spending a few dollars more on good batteries rather than hoping for the best with generic ones.
Tools should be sturdy and durable enough to stand up to tough work. While a high-quality tool is more expensive they often come with a warranty. They are less likely to break but if one does break, you can replace it at little or no cost. Tools from the dollar store, on the other hand, are poorly made and won’t last long. In fact, they could even lead to injury if they break at the wrong moment.
Medicine and Vitamins
Eating right is expensive, and so are vitamins and supplements. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be shopping for a bargain when it comes to them. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is. Cheap, generic medicine and vitamins from the dollar store haven’t necessarily been subjected to the same testing and regulations as name-brand products. They may not even have any active ingredients, so there’s no real way of knowing what’s in the pills. According to Consumer Reports, off-brand vitamins were missing nutrients that were listed on labels. So take caution, because what you think you’re buying may not actually be what you’re getting. If the drug hasn’t been cleared by your physician or you aren’t sure of its integrity, skip it.
This is another dollar store item that may not contain all the ingredients you think it does. Eating low grade, unhealthy food all the time would probably make you sick. The same thing goes for your pet. Yes, it’s cheaper, but do you really want to risk pet’s nutrition for a couple of dollars in savings? The Food and Drug Administration does not require pet food to have pre-market approval. Instead, watch the sales and use coupons for better well know brands.
Sunscreen isn’t something to mess around with. Even when buying name brands, it’s important to purchase only new bottles because a lotion’s effectiveness diminishes over time. Only buy sunscreen if the expiration date is a couple years away. There’s a good chance that those dollar store sunscreen bottles have been sitting on the shelf long enough to lose some of their protective powers. Another issue is that dollar store sunscreen sometimes gets mislabeled, so SPF 50 could actually be SPF 30 or less.. Also check for a seal. If there isn’t an expiration date or seal, skip it.
Detergents and Cleaning Products
Like sunscreen, the efficiency of cleaning products can degrade over time. Best to skip unless there’s an expiration date that is a couple of years away. Also, the cheap and massive sized dish soap containers are often overly diluted with water to fill up the large containers, so you’re not really paying less for more. You’re better off finding a coupon for the same thing at the grocery store.
I’d pretty much skip this category. It’s rare to find name-brand products anyway, and if you do find name brands, they could be pretty old. There’s something mysterious about what’s actually in beauty products. Many makeup brands list the ingredients on the back, but be aware that even if a generic beauty product uses the same ingredients as a similar brand-name item, it may be using a cheaper version to keep prices low. While that may not pose a problem for everyone, those with sensitive skin should probably stay away from these products and stick to reputable brands.
Hair Care and Personal Hygiene Items
Many of these items are filled with chemicals that can be harsh on your skin and dry out your hair. Plus, they may not be allergy-tested. When it comes to products used on your face, it isn’t worth the risk of an allergic reaction or rash caused by cheap ingredients. As for hair color, you risk long-term damage to your hair and scalp with an unknown brand.
Toys and Games
These are usually made very cheaply. Your child will be delighted for a minute until the toy falls apart. Making them a safety hazard for young children who might then pop them in their mouths. Cheap toys are made with inferior materials. Some budget toys may not be guaranteed to be toxin-free. There are some items that are safe to buy for a quick and inexpensive treat, that they’ll be happy with. Things like plastic balls, toys without lots of small parts, and mylar balloons usually are okay.
Crayons and Markers
Be honest, poorly made crayons are no fun. They are often made of wax and quickly break apart. Off-brand Sharpies and pens tend to run out of ink quickly. Often many of these items simply don’t work at all.
Do you know of any other items that should be avoided at the dollar store?
Here are a few shopping tips to keep in mind for your next trip to the dollar store:
- Not everything at the dollar store is actually $1, so check prices.
- Sometimes you get what you pay for, a low price can equal low quality.
- Dollar stores often receive odd lots or overstocks. Before purchasing be sure to check for quality, damages, and expiration dates (when applicable).
- Shop Smart! Don’t assume that because an item is inexpensive that makes it the best deal. Do your research before buying.
- Cheap storage containers and bins do the job just fine, as do disposable utensils and dishware.
- Although the quality isn’t the same as the name brand cards, there’s often no need to spend tons of money on cards. This is especially true when you have a lot of friends and family to send them to! Convey what you want to say and still get a good deal on the card.
- Holiday Decorations may not be super fancy, but most dollar stores sell the same logos and images as brand stores. Many decorations can be stored and reused. Instead of just throwing them out when the holiday’s over I keep them in a clear plastic bin to reuse the next year.
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