Dollar store deals: 5 things to buy and 5 to skip

If you’re looking to get a big bang for your buck, you’ve probably visited one of the 156 dollars in Maine. There seems to be no shortage of them, even in rural areas of the state. Call it the Dollar Store Domination. In fact, there are now more dollar stores in Maine than Walmart, McDonald’s, and Starbucks combined. We’ll explore the trend and changing consumer behavior Thursday night during CBS 13 News at 6.

“Dollar store” is a term often used to refer to the three leading discount retailers, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar.

Dollar Tree is the last of the “dollar stores” to still sell everything for $1. And that could change if a new investment group gets its way.

“Dollar Tree has kept its prices at $1.00 since its founding thirty years ago, despite the fact that $1.00 in 1986 is worth approximately $2.30 today, due to inflation. However, the value that Dollar Tree has offered its customers has deteriorated because of the need to fit everything into a $1.00 price point. Products today are smaller or of lower quality than they were five, ten, and certainly thirty years ago,” argues investor Starboard Value in a letter to Dollar Tree’s CEO and Board of Directors.

“Dollar Tree is focused on ensuring our brands are the premier shopping destination for value and convenience.” Dollar Tree Statement

While they work that out, here’s our list of “Dollar Store Deals: 5 things to buy and 5 to skip,” according to Concerning Consumers.


1. Greeting Cards. 2 for $1. As greeting cards seem to be more expensive with every birthday and holiday, you can’t go wrong here. That’s why greeting cards top our list. Dollar Tree even sells Hallmark lines of cards, so you can still care enough to send the very best.

We also found a package of Hallmark “thank you” cards with an original price of $3.89.
2. Glasses. We’re talking reading glasses and “glassware for any affair.” We found what seem to be pretty nice wine and martini glasses for $1. Cheers!

3. Dishes. While made in China, they aren’t fine China. But you can plate up your food and add some color to your kitchen, dorm, camp, or Airbnb.

4. School and office supplies. Notebooks, pens, pencils, and the big winner — Crayola crayons. We found a 16 pack at the Dollar Tree and the same 16 pack “preferred by teachers” for $4.73 on Amazon.

5. Party supplies, gift wrap, gift bags, and (some) holiday decor. The Dollar Tree could easily be your one-stop party shop. We even found some gift bags that are 2 for $1.


Most name-brand items. While still $1, we found most name-brand items will cost you more on a per unit basis than if you bought larger quantities somewhere else. However, if you only need a small amount, only plan to buy the item once, or can only find a buck (plus tax), $1 items still make sense.

1. Halls cough drops

  • Dollar Tree: 14 for $1 = $.07/each
  • Target: 80 for $3.49 = $.04/each

2. Reynolds Wrap

  • Dollar Tree: 15 sq. ft. for $1 = $.07/sq. ft.
  • Amazon: 200 sq. ft for $10.03 = $.05/sq. ft

3. Irish Spring Soap

  • Dollar Tree: 2 pack (3.2 oz) for $1 = $.50/each
  • Target: 12 pack (3.7 oz) for $5.69 = $.47/each

4. Aleve

  • Dollar Tree: 6 count for $1 = $.17/each
  • Walgreens: 100 count for $8.99 = $.09/each

5. Picture frames. This was initially on my list of things to buy. But after I bought one, I realized the quality is quite poor. When I took the wrapper off to put in a picture, the corner broke right off.

Jon Chrisos

About Jon Chrisos

Award-winning journalist Jon Chrisos is the investigative and consumer reporter at CBS 13 in Portland. He also anchors weeknights at 5:30. Chrisos is “On Your Side” investigating the stories that make a difference in your life. He’s passionate about helping those who’ve been wronged, exposing government waste, asking tough questions, and uncovering the truth.