Dollar stores: Don’t knock ’em until you try ’em

5 Jan

Picture prices just as good as — if not better than — Wal-Mart’s. Now imagine that without having to park what seems to be miles away from the entrance, past the man playing a banjo, squawking chickens and pigs running loose.

Welcome to the world of dollar stores.

I visited a friend who lives near a southern beach town, and he explained many residents there call Wal-Mart “Wal-Fart” because of its perceived no-class image. I would hate to see what this crowd thinks of dollar stores. But while visiting my family this past weekend, I paid one of these places a visit.

If these places are considered “farts”, please pass gas wherever and whenever you want around me.

Business is booming at dollar stores even as entire retail chains have bitten the dust. Earlier this year, Family Dollar reported a 6.4 percent jump in sales at stores open for more than a year. Stock market shares increased by 28 percent, and they rose 36 percent in 2008. This bargain basement store is one of the top performers in the Fortune 500 — with its 6,600 stores making $7 billion in sales.

Family Dollar isn’t the only thriving bargain business. Dollar Tree is actually planning to OPEN NEW STORES when everyone else seems to be closing them left-and-right. In early October, the Virginia-based chain planned to open another 80 stores by the year’s end. The chain’s 3,700 stores’ profits rose 51 percent — to $56.9 million — for the quarter that ended Aug. 1.

Sure, these stores sell their share of off-brand products, but they’re also carrying name-brand items. At a rural West Virginia Family Dollar, I found bottles of Garnier Fructis hair products, Clorox bleach — you name it. The big-time name brands prices are about on par with Wal-Mart’s. But this Family Dollar offered numerous generic knockoffs, like ones for Garnier Fructis, for a song and a dance.

I also visited this particular store on Black Friday. I was able to park about 10 feet away from the door, and I had to wait behind, give or take, two people in line.

Family Dollar stores, from what I have seen, are particularly good places to find small household/decor items, like picture frames and rugs. But here as of late, it seems like they’re carrying larger items, like bed-in-a-bag sets. I’ve been browsing some of the Family Dollar selection because I need a backup comforter in case mine suddenly gets dirty. I’m a cat owner. Enough said.

Dollar Tree is a particularly good place to find party supplies. I had a beach-themed birthday party a few years ago, and my friends and I found everything we needed — sand buckets, leis, stuff to hang from the ceilings, etc., at a nearby Dollar Tree.

Both are also awesome places for cleaning supplies, too.

OK. So these places may not have something nice enough to wear to a job interview. But you’ll have more money left over for that job interview outfit if you save on the basics.

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4 Responses to “Dollar stores: Don’t knock ’em until you try ’em”

  1. Newlywed & Unemployed January 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Agreed! Some of the better stocked stores are beginning to look more like Big Lots and that’s a great thing. I’m a food storage kind of person, so when they have non-perishables at good prices, it’s a great place to stock up.

  2. brookeamanda January 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    I LOVE The Dollar Tree. We have two where I live and they are both huge, very nicely decorated, organized and have GREAT merchandise. I buy my wine glasses from there for $1 and everyone thinks they’re from Crate & Barrel…and I don’t correct them 🙂

  3. 2berrys January 5, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    I hear ya. I’ve gone for little things and also for party type supplies and party favors. I should pop in there more often.

  4. sandyb January 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Dollar stores rock my world. I even had an addiction once, I think. A lot of my household items came from dollar stores – particularly “Dollarama” here in Canada – the first year I lived on my own. Also, I typically get Christmas decor, wrapping paper, and greeting cards from the dollar store. They’re decent quality and, hey, the price is right! This is a great post! Actually, I find that since dollar stores have gained popularity the last few years, the quality of the products they sell has actually upped a bit. Supply and demand, I guess. My opinion is that if you can pay $1 for what you need, as opposed to 5x that price, and still end up with what you want, why wouldn’t you? Again, great info here girl!

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