As a broke Millennial, I shop at Dollar Tree a lot. Unlike many other “dollar” stores, everything at Dollar Tree really is only a dollar, and they have a surprising variety of items in stock. But I’ve learned the hard way that not everything there is a steal. Sometimes things are just so low-quality that they really aren’t even worth a dollar, or other times you get such a limited amount, it’s actually just as cheap to get a larger amount somewhere else. But Dollar Tree is still worth your time, I promise. I highly recommend making it the first stop on every grocery trip, and anything you can’t get there, you can go on to purchase at other stores. If you’re new to bargain-hunting, it can be tricky to figure out where the real deals are, and that’s where I come in. I have been an avid Dollar Tree shopper for years, and I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) which items are the best (and worst) Dollar Tree buys. So read on, and save some money my fellow Millennials (and Zoomers, I know you all are starting to make it on your own now too!)
5 Best Items to Buy From Dollar Tree
- Cards. Oh my gosh, seriously, never buy cards from anywhere else ever again. Once every couple of months, I go to Dollar Tree and stock up on all kinds of cards. Wedding cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, they are all an incredible deal. Sometimes, you can even find cards two for one dollar. To be honest, a card is a card. The person will read it, go “aw” or chuckle a little, then it’ll go on their counter for a few days before going straight into the trash. Unless you know someone who treasures their cards and wants something truly special (which is totally cool too, it just isn’t the norm) Dollar Tree cards are more than acceptable, and they’re way cheaper than $5 Hallmark cards.
- Batteries. If you have some very energy-intensive items that require batteries, you may want a more long-lasting brand, but if you just need occasional batteries for things like remotes and baby mobiles (that is seriously all we use batteries for anymore I think) then Dollar Tree brand will be fine. You can get 6 AA batteries for a dollar! And they don’t die immediately, I swear. We’ve had ours for a few weeks now and they’re still holding up just fine.
- Movie Candy. Anyone who grew up…let’s say not poor but not rich, knows that you need to pack your own snacks when you go to the movies. But you don’t want to go getting snacks that are just as expensive as the concessions (although we’re not sure that’s possible). Dollar Tree is your answer. All of their snacks are a dollar and they have a great variety. Salty, sweet, sour, and they’re decently sized too. Been using this trick since I was a kid, and it still holds up.
- Laundry Detergent. Yes, seriously. You can get a full-sized container of laundry detergent for one freaking dollar. It’s insane. And it isn’t crappy detergent either. I have very sensitive skin, and detergent can easily irritate me. I am pretty picky about my laundry detergents, but honestly, the Dollar Tree brand doesn’t bother me at all. And it still totally gets our clothes clean. I was super hesitant the first time I bought it, but I figure it was worth a shot, and I was wildly impressed.
- Dishes. Again, this might seem totally nuts, but Dollar Tree actually has some really nice dishes, including plates, bowls, mugs, and wine glasses. They’re made of good material and look nice, though in the interest of honesty, I wouldn’t know how well they hold up because I’ve never bought any for myself. I have, however, bought them as gifts for other people and have never heard any complaints, so hopefully that means they’re still doing pretty well.
5 Worst Items to Buy From Dollar Tree
- Trash Bags. Never, ever buy trash bags from Dollar Tree. Just don’t do it. First of all, they are so thin, they rip once they get even halfway full, making them a massive pain in the ass. Second, you only get like 10 for a dollar, and honestly, most Krogers or Aldis will have similar or better deals than that. I would honestly sooner use my purse as a trash bag before using Dollar Tree trash bags again.
- Groceries. I know it can be really tempting to get groceries from Dollar Tree because if everything this only a dollar, you can make out like a bandit, but honestly, the deals on their groceries typically aren’t that great. Most of their items are significantly smaller than you would find at an actual grocery store, and on many items, you might actually end up paying more per ounce than you would at Aldi or something. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have the cash to get real groceries, Dollar Tree can help, but it’s definitely not a great long-term solution if you can help it.
- Wrapping Paper. Definitely a major rip-off. Their rolls of wrapping paper are so thin (and the paper itself is crazy thin), they can wrap two, maybe three, very moderately sized presents. Sure, it’s only a dollar, but a nice, robust tube is only three dollars at your local Walmart, and it will get you through birthdays all year long. It’s just not a good deal compared with what you can get elsewhere.
- Dustpan. This one was so disappointing. At first it seemed so nice. It had a long handle so you didn’t have to bend over when sweeping up the dirt, and it worked fine. But after a month or two, the plastic lip began to warp and it became impossible to actually sweep any dirt into the dustpan, which is, y’know, frustrating. My recommendation? Pay the extra couple of bucks for a proper dustpan, or just sweep your dust out the front door. Don’t get the Dollar Tree dustpan.
- Plunger. Last March, my husband and I bought a house, and before we moved in, I wanted to make sure we had everything we needed before getting settled, including a plunger. I speak from personal experience when I say it is not a good idea to wait to buy a plunger until you need one. So when I was buying a bunch of gloves and sponges to scrub down the walls with, I grabbed a plunger too. But the first time we needed it, it turned out to be utterly useless. I had to make a late-night Walmart run, and since you can’t exactly return a used plunger, it became a dollar wasted.
So there are my tips on what to buy at Dollar Tree, from one financially unstable Millennial to hundreds of others. Take advantage of your local Dollar Tree, know what’s worth your dollar and what isn’t.