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Frugal: Dollar Stores FYI

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Dollar Stores by Garen Daly, at The Frugal Yankee
Do you know what things you can safely buy in a dollar store?
"...stay away from the following dollar store products:

Batteries - Look closely at the package. Many of them are
knock-offs, made in the Far East with inferior materials. They
leak acid and don't last as long as other, well-known brands.
You may save on the up front cost, but replacements or damage
will cost more.

Children's Toys and Jewelry - "Consumer Reports" has found
many of these items to have high concentrations of lead. The
countries of origin lack the government oversight or have lax
regulations. If you do want to buy, look at the label closely.
Where was it made? Is it a brand name? Again the Frugal Yankee
suggests staying away from these, especially for babies and
toddlers who put everything in their mouth.

Paper Goods - Again this is usually an inferior product. Foam
cups and paper plates are the most frequently cited example of
bad products. You can find better deals and better products at
a good warehouse store. (The exception is party goods for
little kids. If you find the princess or monster truck theme
that your child wants, go ahead. You'll use them for about 10
minutes and the quality isn't much of an issue.)

Vitamins - Name brand purchased by dollar stores may be a
deal, but look closely at the expiration date. Expired
vitamins defeat the purpose.

Food - Tread carefully here. There can be some bargains, but
read the entire label carefully, especially if you don't
recognize the brand. Look not only at the expiration date but
also at the ingredients and where it was made. Then make an
informed decision.

Electrical Products - Knock-offs from other countries should
be avoided. They are simply not up to the standard we are
accustomed to. Look at the cords and the construction. If
anything looks "off," avoid it. See if it has a UL label on
it. That is usually a sign of minimum quality standards.

Toothpaste - In 2007, most of us heard how certain toothpaste
from China had nasty chemicals in those seemingly innocuous
looking tubes. Even if you were to buy it from a dollar store,
prices at pharmacies and supermarkets are usually competitive,
so why bother?

Peanuts - The recent salmonella scandal with peanuts and
peanut butter should be a wake up call for everyone. But did
you know that the first recall did not include dollar stores
even though they had a bunch on the shelves? Our advice is to
stay away from peanuts and peanut butter in dollar stores for
some time.

Looking at the above list carefully, there are a few
constants. These constants are good advice for any shopper,
any place and any time. Read the label carefully. Check the
expiration date. Know the country of origin. Know the
ingredients. Does the package looked damaged? Make your
purchases smarter and safer.

Ask one more question. Can I buy this item someplace else for
a better price and/or higher quality? Often, warehouse stores
offer better prices for bulk purchases. You can stock up at
sales in supermarkets and drugstore chains. Consider both when
shopping.

OK, with all that, what are the good deals in dollar stores?

Gift-Wrap - This is especially true right after a holiday.
Prices for gift-wrap, ribbons, and greeting cards are
remarkably low.

Cleaning Supplies - Like many products, cleaning supplies go
through fads or seasons. What may be the hot product one year
quickly becomes dollar store shelf filler the next. Perhaps
this is because the manufacturer has introduced a new scent.
There is no reason to avoid these products just because they
are no longer hot. They still will clean, as long as the
expiration date hasn't been reached.

Kitchen Accessories - A sharp shopper can score with kitchen
accessories. Sometimes these items are simply out of fashion,
sometimes they are imported and sometimes the dollar store
scored on a close out. Just be careful about where it is made
and what you are using it for.

After a brief period of use, kitchen towels or potholders will
get stained and worn. No amount of laundering helps. Recycle
them or toss them. Expensive or inexpensive, the same fate
awaits. Dollar stores are the place to pick up the fresh ones.

Food - Yeah, I know that's in the "be very careful" category
but read the labels. Good products at good prices can be
found. The Frugal Yankee found some very good coffee for $3.50
a pound that normally would sell for about $9 a pound. Be
sharp, be savvy and scores can be found. If it is a huge
score, why not stock up?

Office/School Supplies - There is no expiration date. There is
little chance for contamination from lead or other chemicals.
So paper, erasers and many school/office supplies are decent
deals. Again compare prices at a discount office store before
committing.

Plastics - Buckets, bins, organizers, clothes hangers, and the
like can be good deals. If you expect heavy use, hold out for
a national brand. If you just want to organize some things on
a shelf, these will be fine.

I have one more caution. It's easy to toss a lot of little
things into the shopping cart when prices are low. Dollar
stores count on that impulse. Don't clutter your life with
useless deals. Resist the cute little vase, a spoon rest, or
an auto deodorizer.

There are more products, but the most important thing to
remember about dollar stores is simply this. These stores make
a living on finding low priced goods and then selling them.
Where the goods come from, how long they have been around or
what's in them is not necessarily closely inspected by the
store. When shopping dollar stores, do so knowing you have to
be the one making the smart decisions. You are not paying
someone to do that for you.

Posted via email from simplify3's posterous

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Frugal: Dollar Stores  FYI

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