Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Beth Bond
For the Beacon 

Dollar stores do have deals

But they're not always the best deal


Last updated 2/21/2020 at 4:06pm

Thank goodness for the dollar stores! Or maybe not.

We all want the best value for our money, and this month, when Valentines and candy were to be exchanged, why not visit the "Dollar Store?" Just be prepared to scrutinize your purchases, check expiration dates on any food items and the quality of the paper goods.

And consider your options. B.J. Whitman, manager of the Edmonds Senior Thrift shop, located in the QFC plaza, likes to remind friends that all occasion cards and gift bags at the shop are discounted year-round. "We always have a wide selection of cards and wrap, and even those small purchases mean added funds for the building of the Waterfront Center," Whitman said.

The courtesy shuttles from several assisted living residences often make a stop at local dollar stores. And, it sounds great to hear them when they return, extolling the virtues of economy. But, in fact, it really is hard to believe spending $30 to $40 on just one bag of small items is any kind of bargain.

Lisa Lee Freeman is a reporter for "The Oz Show" and writes in "Consumer Reports" with some valuable advice for shopping the dollar stores. Ms. Freeman says, "Do the math, take a calculator along if necessary. Products may look like a good deal, but is this item packaged in a smaller size than at the market?"

It may end up costing even more per ounce than the larger sizes. Another major issue to be aware of is a comparison of ingredients. Ms. Freeman says, "When choosing a similar product, but a different brand, be sure to check the list of ingredients. Since they are listed in the order of quantity, do not sacrifice nutrition for the cheaper facsimile. No one wants high-fructose corn syrup listed first when looking for granola bars. Be a wise shopper."

"Dollar Tree" and "Family Dollar" are owned by the same corporation, and are held accountable by the Food and Drug Administration. A recent case was settled in New York when "Dollar Tree" was warned about selling potentially unsafe over-the-counter drugs, and cheap toy items that could pose a hazard.

OK, those are the warnings. Do the dollar stores have ANY advantages? Yes, unknown to most of us, the dollar stores do take coupons, and even provide their own coupons online.

Jeff Yeager, writing for the AARP, says, "I am a real devotee of the dollar store!" But, not all dollar stores are the same, even the national chains select different merchandise, and specials vary from store to store.

Jeff offers his tips for dollar store "deals":

• Spices and toiletries;

• Household cleaners, kitchen utensils and, his favorite, picture frames;

• Greeting cards, gift wrap and party supplies;

• Candles and reading glasses;

• Canned food products, like olives and pickles.

It is a sign of the times that the consumer must be informed and wary. Or, if it's too good to be true, then watch the spending of those "dollars" very closely.


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