15 Best Things to Buy at Dollar Stores (Dollar Tree Included)

You might be surprised by some of the items you can and should purchase for just a buck.

Storefront shot of Dollar Tree, in Rexdale, Ontario
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There you go with that reflexive sniffiness about dollar stores. You get what you pay for, right? Nothing but brand-name knockoffs or cheap stuff built to not last, you figure. And then the biggest player in the game, Dollar Tree, raised its fixed price from $1 to $1.25 on most items. How is that even a dollar store?

For many products sold at dollar stores, you’re not wrong about quality and value, as we told you in our guide to the worst things to buy at dollar stores.

But there are also lots of good deals lurking at the dollar store, and with inflation eating ever deeper into household budgets, everyone is looking for a way to save. Analysts note the Dollar Trees of the retail world are widening their selection – and, with it, their range of customers. Alongside those with tight budgets, you’ll also find people less short on cash (as well as ever more millennials) bargain-hunting in the aisles of dollar stores.

The NPD Group, which studies consumer spending for the retail industry, recently found that 19% of the money spent at dollar stores came from households with annual income exceeding $100,000. “Considering that nearly one in five dollars spent there is contributed by the affluent, dollar stores’ value proposition clearly resonates across economic segments,” says NPD’s Andy Mantis.

Another consumer spending tracker, Checkout Tracking, found millennials with annual incomes of $100,000 or more made purchases at these stores nearly 13 times a year and spent more than $135.

We spoke with shopping experts and prowled stores to identify some of the best buys at dollar stores. Take note, however, that our price comparisons aren’t always oranges-to-oranges. Brands and package sizes vary between products stocked by Dollar Tree — manufacturers do this deliberately — and those carried by other retailers.

A quick tip out of the gate, from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch: Shop online! Many don’t realize that price comparisons are possible before you even pull into the dollar store’s lot.

“Plus,” she notes, “ you can find coupons to save on those online dollar store purchases through deal aggregators like CouponFollow.com.”

Bob Niedt

Bob was Senior Editor at Kiplinger.com for seven years and is now a contributor to the website. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.