19 Dollar Store Items That Give You the Best Bang for Your Buck

PLATTSBURGH, USA - AUGUST 23, 2017 : Dollar Tree shop online signage.
dennizn / Shutterstock.com

For decades, dollar stores have been winning over American consumers with their ultra-low pricing. These bargain bin loaded hubs may not look the nicest, but they typically live up to their name: the stuff is cheap — sometimes cheaper than what makes sense considering how much other retailers may charge for the same type of products.

Check Out: Should You Buy Groceries at the Dollar Store?
Find: 34 Dollar Store Secrets You Need To Know Before You Shop

Cheapness can come at a cost, though. There are certain items that, no matter how heavily marked down, are simply not worth it. For example, fresh foods and produce sold at the Dollar Store are almost definitely a no-no because they may be not so fresh. Consumers should also be wary of over-the-counter medicines at dollar stores because they could be expired, or as the FDA has found with Dollar Tree OTC medications, “potentially unsafe.”

So, what items sold at dollar stores are always best buys? And how much do you stand to save shopping there instead of at traditional retailers like Walmart and Target? Let’s explore.

Greeting Cards 

“It never fails to amaze me how expensive greeting cards can get at some stores — as much as $6 or more in some cases,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “Instead of shelling out a ton of cash for a card that your recipient will most likely read one time and then toss in the trash, opt for one that’ll cost you around $1.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Gift Bags and Tissue Paper  

“While I don’t recommend purchasing wrapping paper from the dollar store, as it tends to rip way too easily in my experience, gift bags and tissue paper are safer bets,” Ramhold said. “The tissue paper is most often used to hide gifts in bags anyway, and as long as you treat the bag well, they should hold up just fine for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay at other stores.”

Vases

“If you enjoy having fresh flowers around on a regular basis, purchasing vases from the dollar store is an excellent way to mix up the look without spending a fortune on containers,” Ramhold said. “And if one happens to get broken, you can rest easy knowing you spent $1.25 or so on the vase, rather than a much more substantial amount.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Drinkware

“Whether you’re a college student needing to bulk up your drinkware collection or you just need a few specialty glasses, the dollar store is a great place to shop,” Ramhold said. “Plastic glasses are available, but also old-fashioned, daiquiri, rocks, Irish coffee, margarita, brandy, wine, champagne and even dessert shot glasses. You can also find standard water goblets and thick-bottomed glasses as well, plus beer mugs and pilsners.”

More Advice: 30 Things You Should Never Buy Without a Coupon

Picture Frames  

“This is another item that can really add up if you shop elsewhere, but you can purchase decent frames that are perfect for gifts or your own displays at the dollar store for less,” Ramhold said. “You can find ones that have a more distinctive look, such as a gold glitter frame, but there are also plenty of options for just plain black, white and wooden frames for a simpler look.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Phone Charger Cables 

“Phone cables are always up for sale at dollar stores and while they might not last as long as one you purchase from an Apple store, they’ll likely be 20 times less than the official high-street price,” said Jenna Carson, financial partner at MoneyLucid.com. “These are perfect for times you’ve forgotten a charger or left it in the office and you need a quick fix solution that doesn’t cost you a crazy price.”

Tupperware 

“Tupperware or food container boxes are a great dollar store item,” Carson said. “Usually when they are found at the likes of Walmart or Target there is such a small selection that the prices are ramped up. I’ve seen them for $6 a box. A food container always does what it says on the tin and there’s no reason not to gather these up from a dollar store. They tend to come in all shapes and sizes, too.”

Dish Sponges

“Dish sponges can [usually] be found in packs of six for a dollar at the dollar store while they are $4.49 for a pack of six at Target,” said Chloe Choe, founder and owner of Off Hour Hustle.

Helium Mylar Balloons

“Helium mylar balloons are perfect for birthdays and are $1 at the dollar store compared to $3.99 at Target,” said Choe. “They also come prefilled with helium.”

Coffee Filters 

“Coffee filters cost three to five times their dollar store price at Target or Walmart,” said Nunzio Ross, founder and CEO at Majesty Coffee. “Both bleached and unbleached coffee filters cost way less at a dollar store.”

Carpet Cleaner 

“Powdered carpet cleaners at dollar stores are always less expensive than at other retailers,” said Martin Boonzaayer, CEO of The Trusted Home Buyer. “The closest cost to the dollar store is $2.50 at Lowes.”

Pine-Sol 

“Pine-Sol is one of the best all-purpose cleaners on the market, and it can be found at many dollar stores,” Boonzaayer said. “This can cost $2.80 or even over $4 at a retail store.”

Bleach

“Bleach is almost always so powerful, even the dollar store brand works,” Boonzaayer said. “This can cost almost $5 at a retail store.”

Along with the above products, Annie Brown, frugal living blogger at Savvy Honey, provided GOBankingRates with a helpful list of items that are always cheaper at dollar stores (specifically Dollar Tree), and gave their alternate, much higher prices at big-box retailers. Take a look.

Mini Dry Erase Board  

 Cooling Rack for Baking & Cooking  

Hummingbird Feeder  

Mesh Strainer 

 Mini Hand Broom & Dust Pan

Pizza Pan, 12″  

Cake Pan, 8″

More From GOBankingRates

All prices are accurate as of Feb. 7, 2022 and are subject to change.

About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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