It has happened to all of us at one time or another—we walk into our local dollar store and instantly feel like we’re getting a bargain! Plates, candy, mugs, decorations, school supplies and more, it seems like whatever you need can be found at the dollar store. But how much of a bargain are we really getting? While some items truly are a steal, others do not work as well as their name-brand counterparts and wind up sitting on our shelves collecting dust. Here is a list of seven of the top things to grab or ditch at your local dollar store:


Grab It: School and art supplies

When it comes to items like stickers, construction paper, markers, crayons and more, your local dollar store is the perfect place to stock up. These same items tend to be higher elsewhere—for example, construction paper costs $2 and up at Staples, and basic stickers and markers cost between $2–5 at places like OrientalTrading and Michaels. Other school basics, such as small plastic bins to hold pencils, rulers, etc. can be found at the dollar store, as well.

Ditch It: Sandwich bags and plastic wrap

A great deal on sandwich bags can be deceiving at your local dollar store, as most boxes only contain 7 or 10 bags. Moreover, seals can be uneven or don't hold as tight, leaving you unable to seal the bags closed properly. Plastic wrap is another item to avoid—most plastic wraps found here are thin or flimsy and do not cling tight enough to protect foods. Spend the extra dollar or two at your local grocery, Walmart, or Target store to get higher-quality food storage products.

Grab It: Gift wrap, balloons and party supplies

While your local party supply store might be your first thought for these items, your local dollar store can actually save you a lot of money. You can find a wide variety of quality balloons, gift bags, gift wrap, ribbons, invitations, goody bags, and more for just a dollar each. Shop your local Party City, and balloons alone range from $2.49–20; Walgreens and CVS charge $3.99 and up for gift wrap and $2.99–5.99 or more for gift bags.

Ditch It: Batteries

You're standing in the checkout line and see the 99-cent batteries, which seem like a great deal…but, don't do it! According to a recent study by a Southern Louisiana University physicist, most dollar store batteries contain carbon zinc instead of alkaline. Carbon zinc is known for producing less power than alkaline and fading quickly. If you are in need of batteries for an electronic device that you plan to use more than a few times, spend the extra dollar or two and get alkaline batteries.

Grab It: Glassware

From quality glassware for everyday use to simple and elegant wine glasses, your local dollar store is a great way to stock up on durable, attractive glassware without spending a fortune. Plain glassware in 12-count sets will cost you a minimum of $20 at both Target and Walmart. Dollar store glassware is perfect for college students, and is a great option when you need extra glasses for a party and don’t want to cry when a rowdy reveler breaks one.

Ditch It: Canned vegetables and spices

Spices do not have as fast a turnover rate at these stores as your local grocery, so for fresher options at around the same price, you are better off getting these items at the supermarket. Canned vegetables are not a great deal either, as most grocery-store brands cost around 69–99 cents per can and may be fresher.

Grab It: Holiday and greeting cards

Whether you need a quick birthday card or have to stock up for the upcoming holidays, do not discount your local dollar store. You can often find 10–12 pack holiday cards and an assortment of everyday greeting cards that would normally set you back a few dollars a piece at your local drugstore.

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