10 Items You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store

Wealth / Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Everyone loves to get something at a discount. If you like to shop at the dollar store you might be making the mistake of assuming any item for a dollar is a good deal but that might not be true. In this blog post, I’m going to disclose 10 items you should never buy at the dollar store.

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10 Items You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store

Dollar Store Shopping Tips

Over Priced Dollar Store Items

(1) Meat

Meat is a food item you should never buy at the dollar store.  Your local dollar store might sell bologna, ham, turkey, etc. for $1. You’ll notice that the quantity of meat is much smaller then what you will find at the grocery store.  If the dollar store sells meat at 1/8 of a pound you are paying $8 for a pound of meat!


Any item that you have not calculated at a comparable price at another store should not be bought at the dollar store. Chances are you will be overpaying.

Items You Should Never Buy from the Dollar Store - Medicine
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

(2) Medicine

Medicine is an example of a dollar store item that might not be the best deal due to quantity.  If the pill count is 8, then $1 isn’t a good deal.  When purchasing items like aspirin, vitamins, antacids, or other medicines it is recommend that you check to quantities to make sure you are really getting a deal.

(3) Paper Products

Paper products like paper plates, cups, toilet paper are bad deals at the dollar store.  You will either get a smaller quantity of these items or their quality will be poor.   

If you are looking for ways to save money on your paper plates, paper towels, or toilet paper it is best to buy these items in bulk.  You can then purchase quality brands but still lower your costs.

Items You Should Never Buy from the Dollar Store - Canned Food

(4) Canned Food

Dollar stores now have a large variety of food items.  You can even find name brand canned foods.  A can of vegetables seems like a great buy- it’s just a $1, right? But had you shopped at your grocery store, you could have gotten them for .50 cents or less on sale. It turns out that isn’t such a great deal after all.

When it comes to canned foods you get at better deal by shopping at your local grocery store or Walmart.  Purchase frugal foods, add in savings from cash back apps like Ibotta and you will save even more.

Bad Quality Dollar Store Items

There are some things sold in the dollar store that are great deals.  However, some of these items have very bad quality.  When it comes to these things, you are better off paying a higher price for a quality product.

Items You Should Never Buy from the Dollar Store - Headphones

(5) Headphones

Who hasn’t been tempted to purchase a $1 pair of headphones from the dollar store?  Their headphone right.  How bad can they be? 


Headphones from the dollar store are very poor quality and they sound horrible.  You are not getting a deal if you can’t hear your music clearly.  Or if you’re trying to have a conversation and it is full of static.

Don’t be tempted by that $1 price tag. You can find a quality pair of headphones at a very inexpensive price.

(6) Batteries

I can’t think of anyone who enjoys buying batteries.  But they are one of those must-have accessories that you can’t go without.  Kids toys, remote controls, and flashlights for your family survival kit are just a few of the items in your home that require a healthy storage of batteries.

Batteries from the dollar store drain quickly and can leak and damage your equipment.  It is best to purchase batteries in bulk in order to save money.

Items You Should Never Buy from the Dollar Store - Toys

(7) Toys

Have you ever walked down the toy isle at the dollar hoping to grab a quick little surprise for your child and couldn’t find anything? This is because most of the toys in the dollar store are very poor quality.

Giving your child plastic toys with little pieces that can easily break is very dangerous. Many of these cheap toys have not been safety tested and are just plain hazardous.

Take the extra time and spend the extra money to purchase quality toys.  There are other safer ways to make parenting less expensive.

(8) Electronics

Electronics purchased from your local dollar store are usually very low quality.  This includes items like surge protectors, cell phone chargers, extension cords, and HDMI cords.  These items are a little on the expensive side, but for very good reasons.

It is very important to the safety of your family that electronics you purchase do their job with putting you in a hazard situation.  This is especially true for surge protectors and extension cords. You also don’t want to spend money on a product that is going to stop working after a short period of time requiring you to repurchase.  In this scenario, you are not really saving money.

(9) Plastic Utensils

The dollar store sells every utensil you can think of in a plastic version.  If you are just starting out these may seem like a great deal.  The ugly truth about these dollar store plastic utensils is that they can be toxic. Bromine, which is linked to cancer and birth defects, has been found in bargain versions of plastic utensils.

Items You Should Never Buy from the Dollar Store - Tools

(10) Tools

A hammer for $1! This has to be a good deal… right? Not exactly.  The cheap tools that you find at the dollar store are just that.


That $1 hammer might get you through one project of hanging a picture frame but don’t count on it to last much longer.  Tools are a household investment.  Take your time and purchase high-quality tools that will last your family through countless DIY projects.

Deal or No Deal?

There are many great deals at your local dollar store. However, one thing we all need to learn is how to discern if a deal really is the good bargain it seems to be… The next time you are shopping at the dollar store make sure you are truly getting value by checking quantities and quality.  As you can see from the list above, there are some no deals hidden among the deals. 

Leave a comment and share any other items you think you should never buy at the dollar store.

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27 Replies to “10 Items You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store”

  1. Such an insightful read !!! People do crazy shopping at the Dollar store just by reading a label of 1$. But the quantity and especially quality of item should be considered first before run for such so-called heap money saving deals.

  2. I agree you have be a savvy shopper at the dollar store, and remember you get what you pay for most of the time. I tend to stick to cards, tissue paper, gift bags and I have found some really great books too. Did you know they are carrying Hallmark cards now and some are 2 for $1 starting Aug. 30th which is a deal compared to the grocery store!

  3. I never buy meat in pound stores. But I do buy canned food since it’s cheaper than elsewhere. But that’s what I thought- I’ll have to pay more attention to this in normal grocery stores from now on.

  4. So true on the meat, toys, and headphones (the ones I purchased years ago were crappy and broke easily). I get things like candles, books, and glass (vases etc). It’s so easy to spend a lot because everything is just a dollar.

  5. I have never understood the allure of the Dollar Store. Yeah, a pack of sandwich baggies seems cheap for $1 when they’re $4 at Target or Walmart, but the pack at the big stores are usually about 10x the quantity! And it’s the same for almost every other item they sell. Why buy a tiny thing of laundry detergent for $1 when you can buy a huge one for $5!?

    1. Hi Riana, What you’ve pointed out is very true. You have to be very careful when shopping at the Dollar Store. As the post pointed out not everything is a good deal. There are a few gems that you can get from the Dollar Store. Greeting Cards, balloons, and some party supplies are a few things that I always buy from the Dollar Store.

  6. I have seen fake UL tags on surge suppressors. I only buy my electric cords and surge suppressors at Home Depot.
    I used to buy cheap screwdrivers at dollar stores and wondered why they were bent. Cheap metal alloys was the reason. Now, all of my tools are from Sears, Home Depot or Lowe’s.

    1. Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Sears are all great stores to buy quality tools. It’s just about finding a balance between quality and price.

  7. I have something to add. Lingerie washing bags. They shred in the wash, even if you wash the load on delicate.

    I disagree with meat and batteries.

    The pre-cooked breakfast sausage is the same price as the supermarket unless the supermarket is having a HUGE sale. I do buy the quarter-pound steaks because they’re perfect for a steak sandwich or two breakfast sandwiches. You do need to check the weight and make sure you’re getting a quarter-pound, not 2 oz.

    Batteries, again, read the label. If they’re alkaline and 4-for-a-dollar, this is a good buy. If they aren’t alkaline, yes, they will leak so don’t buy them. “Heavy-duty” batteries are not alkaline. This is a misnomer from before alkaline batteries were created. Only buy alkaline!

  8. I realize everything isn’t a great deal at the dollar store but sometimes the small packages are nice…even if they’re a dollar. Dryer sheets, garbage bags etc are great for college students. They don’t need heavy expensive bags or a box of 180 dryer sheets.
    Just be careful. Sometimes convenience is worth it.

    1. Great point Lisa. If you are looking for the convenience of a small package then you can find some great options at the Dollar Store.

  9. I taught online for VIPKID for a year and I found some good uses for those cheap dollar store toys. Plus, other more expensive toys broke just as quickly. You’ve got to evaluate each toy on its own merits. A dollar for a mini soccer, football or baseball that will be used to demonstrate words like “catch, throw, bounce, and kick” is a pretty good deal.

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