Which Dollar Store Is Best?

Miles and Miles of shelves of no-name stationary products, candles, flowers.
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About 40% of the new stores that opened 2021 were dollar stores, according to Money.com. The three big dogs — Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar — operate 33,000 locations across North America.

For context as to just how big the industry has grown, that’s more than Costco, Target, RiteAid, CVS and Walmart combined.

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With virtually everyone in America never more than a few minutes away from one dollar store or another, which one is best? Well, that depends on what you’re shopping for.

Best for Stuff That’s Truly $1

Mighty Dollar operates just 13 stores in Kentucky and North Carolina, so it’s not even in the same league as the others. However, in at least one respect, that’s a good thing. Mighty Dollar is the last true dollar store in America that isn’t just a dollar store in name only.

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In September 2021, Dollar Tree — which for years had been the last major holdout — joined Family Dollar and Dollar General in listing large portions of its inventory for above $1. There are roughly 400 99 Cents Only Stores in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, but they’re no longer true to their name, either.

That makes the small but punchy Mighty Dollar the last true dollar store chain in America.

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Best for Craft Supplies

  • Winner: Dollar Tree

Susan Gagnon, editor in chief of Costumes Heaven, knows a thing or two about procuring materials on a budget thanks to her forte of cobbling together inexpensive costumes. When it comes to cost-efficient creativity, she believes there’s no competition.

“If you’re looking for craft supplies on the cheap, Dollar Tree is where we’d recommend you go. Dollar Tree has a very vast range of supplies for all of your craft needs. They also stock up on Crafter’s Square products, a must-have for craft enthusiasts.”

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Bath and Beauty Products

  • Winner: Dollar Tree

This is one category where you can always expect to do better at dollar stores than big-box stores, but one dollar store particularly stands out — Dollar Tree.

“It’s a great place to buy drugstore makeup products,” said Gagnon. “You won’t find Fenty products here, but Dollar Tree can help you save a ton of money on miscellaneous things like bath salts, brush cleaners, etc.”

Chris Nddie, co-owner of the smart shopping site ClothingRIC, concurs.

“Getting 18 ounces of body wash for $1 is a great bargain even if you feel the product is watered down a bit,” said Nddie. “You cannot get a similar deal from Target or Walmart even when the items are on sale. Dollar Tree, in particular, has some great body wash products, many of which come with a great scent and provide an extraordinary value for the money.”

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School Supplies

  • Winner: Dollar General

Dollar General beats the pack for most of your back-to-school needs — and that goes not only for parents, but for educators, too.

“Dollar General should be the go-to store for teachers looking up to stock their classrooms before the new school year begins,” said Gagnon. “Dollar General not only has an insane range of products but also offers some great discounts to teachers exclusively.”


  • Winner: Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree commands yet another spot on this list — and in this case, it’s the sweet spot.

“They have a wide variety of candies available such as Skittles, Sour Punch and even Jolly Ranchers,” said Evelyn Smith, a professional photographer, shopping expert and owner of Foxbackdrop. “They can serve as the perfect option to take to movie theaters, where the same sweets are priced higher. You can buy such candies in bulk from the Dollar Tree.”

Party Supplies

  • Winner: 99 Cents Only

99 Cents Only isn’t nearly as big as the others, but it’s the place to be if you’re planning a celebration.

“The 99 Cents Only store is our favorite for family parties,” said Alex Estrada, owner of the shopping site GiveHimThis.com. “Our family hosts multiple birthday parties every year. When the 99 Cents Only store came to town, our budget for party supplies was cut in half or more. We used to pick up balloons from one store, party supplies at a second store, and a piñata from a third store. Now, we can shop for it all in one place.”


  • Winner: Family Dollar

If you’d expect to find it in the kitchen, chances are good that you’ll find it for less at Family Dollar.

“If you’re looking for household items such as bakeware, cookware, and disposable pans, then Family Dollar would be your best bet,” said Brooke Grasley, an avid dollar store shopper and founder of Restore Decor And More. “They also have a wide variety of dinnerware and glasses for only $1 apiece.”

Health and Medical

  • Winner: Dollar General

If you’re packing a first-aid kit or stocking your medicine cabinet, you won’t do better than Dollar General.

“If you’re looking for health-related merchandise, then Dollar General is where you should go first,” said Grasley. “You can save a ton of money on bandaids, allergy medicine, and anything cold and flu-related, to name a few. Dollar General also has a wide variety of cute and affordable home decor such as curtains, candles and towels.”

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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