Dollar stores aren't just for the incredibly frugal. A recent Colliers International study shows dollar stores now outnumber national drugstore chains, according to Independent Retailer.
Despite obvious deals, some shoppers are still reticent to patronize these retailers because they lack confidence in product quality. Though I don't buy everything at my local Dollar Tree, there are several items I simply will not buy anywhere else. If you struggle to make the leap into dollar-store savings, consider these eight must-haves to get your feet wet.
1. Greeting Cards
This is my number-one dollar-store purchase. Never again will I pay upwards of $5 for a greeting card when I can find perfectly clever, poignant and practical cards for $1 or less at my local Dollar Tree. You can also find bulk thank-you cards and other decorative notes to maintain correspondence without breaking the bank.
I have a raging sweet tooth but can't bring myself to pay over $2 for something my waistline doesn't need. Thankfully -- or perhaps not, depending on how you look at it -- dollar stores have many name-brand goodies to curb my craving. It's also my go-to place for stocking up on provisions before the movies.
3. Party Supplies
Whether you're organizing a company party or kids' birthday bash, dollar stores have scores of party supplies to make your event a hit. Banners, balloons, confetti, gift bags and wrapping paper are just a sampling of the available inventory, and you can always find holiday-themed decor on the cheap. Even if you don't have a dollar store nearby, you can order online and find coupons for Dollar General at sites like CouponSherpa.com for additional savings.
4. Single Servings
Dollar stores are a great place to pick up single quantities of popular items. For example, a friend of mine recently purchased two wineglasses as the traditional set of six or eight was way more than she needed. She was able to get what she needed without compromising price or storage space. Score!
5. Hair Accessories
While some fashionistas may have reservations about getting their hair candy at a discount store, I can't stress enough how practical it is to load up on the basics for less. Most hair bands and bobby pins are created equal, so there's no reason to pay more for them than you have to. In fact, dollar stores sometimes carry the popular Goody brand of hair bling, so keep your eyes peeled.
6. School Supplies
Every school year seems to bring with it a more demanding list of required supplies. Thankfully, most educational essentials are as basic as you can get, allowing for incredible savings. Spiral-bound notebooks, three-ring binders, bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils -- you can find it all at the dollar store.
7. Kids' Toys
Children tire of toys faster than the speed of paychecks, so parents everywhere could use a practical outlet for keeping their kids entertained. Dollar stores dedicate an entire aisle to superhero swag and princess must-haves at unbeatable prices, so check them out before paying department-store prices.
8. Airplane Distractions
Though airport shops offer plenty of tempting snacks and magazines, the price of these items will quickly eat up your budget. Why pay over $3 for trail mix when you can pick some up at a dollar store for a third of the cost? In addition to thrifty snacks, you can find coloring books, Sudoku puzzles and other distractions to keep yourself inexpensively occupied during a long flight.
Kendal Perez is a frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. She has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget. Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as CNN Money, FOX, ABC, NPR and Home and Family Finance Radio.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!