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Kip Tips

Best Things to Buy at Dollar Stores for Summer

Bargains galore can be found on items for the pool, beach, backyard and more – all for just a buck.


Memorial Day is the traditional start to summer, but the Fourth of July is when the season kicks into high gear. You don’t have to go broke to enjoy the beach or backyard barbeques. In fact, you should be able to pick up many of the items you need on the cheap at dollar stores.

SEE ALSO: 11 Secrets to Shopping at Costco

So, with that in mind, we trekked off to check out the bargains on quintessential summer merchandise at Dollar Tree, a popular dollar-store chain that sells everything for a buck or less. We also comparison-shopped at Target and Giant, to see if these retailers could match – or beat – Dollar Tree’s prices. Here’s what we found.

Apparel. Of course you’re looking to show off your patriotic pride this summer. A pair of flip-flops, a one-size-fits-all patriotic hat and a stylish patriotic scarf are available for $1 each at Dollar Tree. The patriotic hats and scarves at Target were selling for $3 each and a pair of flip-flops was on clearance for $3.98.

Oh, and there was an adult hula skirt for $1 – it fit rather nicely, thank you for asking – and a set of six leis for $1 at Dollar Tree. I found neither at Giant or Target. I looked.


Beach and pool. Dollar Tree is out in front with many of these items – literally in front of the entrance to the store. Pool noodles are $1 each compared to $3.99 at Target. A sand pail and shovel is $1 at Dollar Tree; Target draws $9.99 for its sand pail and tools (or $4.99 for a sand shovel). A three-pack of water pistols is $1 at Dollar Tree, while Target charges $1.79 for one squirt gun.

And if you’re more susceptible to burning than tanning, a 3-ounce tube of Max Block 30-SPF sunscreen was $1 at Dollar Tree. A comparable-sized tube of Up & Up 30-SPF sunscreen was on sale for $4.15 at Target.

Beverages and desserts. Summer is lemonade season, and if you want it straight from the bottle, a 67.6-ounce bottle of Stars & Stripes lemonade (pink or yellow) goes for $1 at Dollar Tree. Target was selling a 59-ounce bottle of Simply Lemonade for $2. Do you make your own iced tea? Dollar Tree was selling a package of 12 Tetley iced tea bags for $1; at Target, a package of 24 Tetley iced tea bags was $2.46.

For dessert, a buck will get you 16 Tropical Kool Pops at Dollar Tree. A box of 18 Disney “Frozen” Popsicles at Target was $4.09.

Grilling supplies. I couldn’t find a frozen 3.5-ounce ribeye steak at Target, but Dollar Tree is selling them for $1. You’ll want some steak sauce with that and a 10-ounce bottle of Blazin’ Blends steak sauce is $1 at Dollar Tree, while a 12-ounce bottle of Fire & Flavor steak sauce was on clearance at Target for $2.98. An eight-count package of Bar S bun-length hot dogs was $1 at Dollar Tree. Target was selling a package of eight bun-size Ball Park Angus beef franks for $2.99. You need beans with franks, and a 28-ounce can of Hanover baked beans is $1 at Dollar Tree. A 28-ounce can of Bush’s baked beans at Target was $1.66.


Condiments were a close call. A 24-ounce bottle of Hunt’s ketchup and a 20-ounce container of Koop’s yellow mustard were $1 each at Dollar Tree. At Giant, the Hunt’s ketchup was on sale for $1 (usually $1.49). The Koop’s mustard at Giant was also $1, but the bottle was only 18 ounces. Target did manage to beat Dollar Tree on the price of a package of Lay’s Stax chips. Each container was on sale for 50 cents. Dollar Tree was selling the same size package for $1.

Party supplies. Dollar stores are the go-to source for parties. All-occasion American Greetings cards are $1 each, and many go for two for $1. At a Giant supermarket, I found a small section of greeting cards for 99 cents each, but most of the Hallmark cards the store was selling started at $3.99 each. Multipacks of invitations, thank-you cards, baby shower announcements and more were $1 at Dollar Tree. They started at $3.25 at Giant, if available at all.

“Kids birthday party supplies (unless there’s a theme you can’t find) can add big savings to the family budget bought at the dollar store,” says Brent Shelton, a shopping expert at

Need a gift bag? One buck will get you one at Dollar Tree, and filling it with tissue paper will set you back $1 – for 35 20-inch-by-20-inch sheets. Meanwhile, a tiny bag of spiral tissue “bag filler” at Giant is $2.49 and a gift bag is $3.99. Over at Dollar Tree, a buck will get you a helium-filled Mylar balloon, plus there’s a wide variety to choose from. Meanwhile at Giant, helium-filled Mylar balloons sell for $4 to $10 apiece.


Picnic supplies. Summer fun includes picnics. For the Fourth of July you could get a wide assortment of banners, packages of napkins with American flags, paper plates and paper lanterns, all for $1 each at Dollar Tree.

Utensils? A 48-pack of plastic forks and other plastic cutlery is $1 at Dollar Tree. At Giant, $1.49 would get you a package of 24 pieces of cutlery. A package of 30 foam dinner plates was $1 at the dollar store. At Giant, you’d pay $2.49 for 24. Meanwhile, Target was off-loading packages of 34 heavy-duty paper dinner plates for $2.99, on sale.

And you’ll need some hand sanitizer when all is said and done. An 8-ounce bottle of Assured instant hand sanitizer is $1 at Dollar Tree. An 8-ounce bottle of Up & Up hand sanitizer at Target will set you back $1.49, on sale.

Outdoor toys. What’s summer without a hula hoop? You can pick one up at Dollar Tree for $1, while the Maui hoop at Target is $5.99. A box of sidewalk chalk is a buck at Dollar Tree and $2.49 at Target. A 32-ounce bottle of Bubble Fun bubbles is $1 at Dollar Tree, while Target will pop you for 99 cents for just 16 ounces of Super Miracle bubbles. A plastic baseball bat and ball will set you back $1 at Dollar Tree, while at Target that ball and bat will cost you $7.99 (Major League Baseball logo included). And it will cost you a buck to go fly a kite. Dollar Tree was selling a 22-inch Sofia the First Disney kite for $1. A 42-inch Barbie or Cinderella kite at Target was $2.99.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things to Know About Shopping at Aldi