Dealing in Dollar Stores
With money tight for so many people, cost-conscious consumers are trying out dollar stores in an attempt to cut their budgets during these tough economic times.
But as these stores are growing and other retailers suffer their worst downturn in more than 20 years, many wonder if all those one-dollar items are really a bargain?
"Early Show" financial contributor Vera Gibbons gave her do’s and don’ts Thursday on the broadcast for dollar store shopping, including common misconceptions among bargain hunters and strategizing for the best deals.
1)Common misconception — Everything at a dollar store is a deal!
These days, on average, 77% of the items in dollar stores cost more than a dollar. prices may be less than $1, may be up to $20! Sometimes the deals are great, other times they’re not, sometimes you may do better at a drugstore or a discounter.
2) What are the best buys?
Best buys on things like party supplies paper goods (paper towels, napkins, gift wrapping paper) school supplies (from brown paper bags to coloring books), shampoo, and cleaning supplies (laundry detergent, soap). I should point out — may not be name brand cleaning supplies. dollar store cleaning products tend to be private labels developed just for that market. Most have same ingredients as name brands, just a little more diluted.
3) Are there any brand names at dollar stores?
Sometime you’ll see name brands, for example, Dollar General carries Kleenex, Coke, Nabisco, Hershey, Fisher Price, but brand knockoffs can be an issue — from fake designer perfume to fake Sharpie pens.
May work for you just fine, but steer clear when it come to personal care items like toilet paper, fake cosmetics, or imposter toothpaste — the Food and Drug Administration has identified several counterfeit tubes that look like Colgate, and more than 40 hazardous brands.
4) Are there other products that may be hazardous as well?
Avoid buying kids toys — cheap, break easily, might be choking hazards. Lead is an issue as well, as it is with kids jewelry. Millions of pieces of kids jewelry have been recalled in recent years because of high lead content.
5.Skip aspirin and other medications?
Expiration dates can be an issue. if there even is an expiration date (if there isn’t or has expired, skip it). As for vitamins — in an analysis done by Consumer Reports, half the dollar store brands it looked at contained less of the nutrients claimed on the label.
6) Watch out for inferior products?
Batteries — dollar store brands are usually made of carbon zinc (an inferior option compared to those you’d find at drugstore). cheap, won’t last long, might leak. also — never good idea to buy electrical products — may have inferior wiring and pose a fire hazard. At the very least, don’t buy extension cords, power outlets without looking for what’s called the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label. This symbol means the product has successfully met standards for safety compliance.
Copyright 2009 CBS. All rights reserved.
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