Best Things to Buy & Avoid at the Dollar Store

Best Things to Buy & Avoid at the Dollar Store

Buying something for just a buck might seem too good to be true, but for the many dollar store deal-sniffers out there, it’s a fact of life. 

But shopping at the dollar store can be hit or miss. True, dollar stores hold a wealth of fantastic deals just waiting to be discovered, but there are also some things on those shelves that should be left to gather dust. Here are 53 items you should always buy at the dollar store, starting with our editor’s favorites, and 21 items to avoid.

Table of Contents

  1. Editors’ Picks
  2. Housewares & Decor
  3. Party & Special Occasion Supplies
  4. Kids’ Gear
  5. Personal Items & Extras
  6. What NOT To Buy At The Dollar Store

Editors’ Picks

dollar store halloween decorations
Our deal editors are experts at knowing what’s a good deal and worth your hard-earned money. While they normally snag their deals online, there are a few things they look to pick up at the dollar store.

Holiday and Seasonal Supplies

Our managing editor Casey buys all of her seasonal decor at the dollar store because she knows it doesn’t stay up forever. Nobody wants to spend a ton on something that is up for a couple of weeks out of the year, at most. Stock up on things like Halloween cobwebs, Christmas cards, and Easter basket filler.

Name Brand Deals

Despite what you may think, you can pick up a few name brands at the dollar store. Our editor Julie likes to look for brands like Softsoap and Reynolds aluminum foil and cling wrap. There are also a lot of brand-name hygiene products like toothbrushes and razors.

Personal Items

Several Brad’s Deals editors and moms recommend using the dollar store pregnancy tests and ovulation kits. These cheapies are accurate enough to keep track of your cycle and detect pregnancy but are also affordable enough to buy in bulk. Just be sure to check the expiration dates before you purchase.

Housewares & Decor

dollar store home decor

The nice thing about buying home decor and decorative wares at a dollar store is they’re cheap and easy to replace if they break, or if you feel like switching things up around the house.

  • Reusable food storage containers
  • Bins for organizing
  • Wine glasses
  • Mugs
  • Plates
  • Silverware
  • Kitchen towels
  • Vases
  • Artificial flowers
  • Picture frames
  • Candle holders
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Garbage can or waste basket for a bathroom

Party & Special Occasion Supplies


Party supplies and wrapping paper are a must-buy at the dollar store, as they’re often priced at a fraction of their cost at other stores. This is ideal–I mean who wants spend a fortune on stuff that will be used once and then end up in the trash can? Check your local dollar store for deals on these items:

  • Greeting cards
  • Gift bags
  • Wrapping paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Balloons
  • Holiday decor
  • Themed party decorations
  • Cups
  • Paper plates
  • Party utensils
  • Napkins
  • Table cloth
  • Birthday candles
  • Large bowls for chips and snacks

Kids’ Gear

colored paper

These inexpensive items will not only keep the kids busy on rainy days, but they can also act as perfect goody-bag fillers, stocking stuffers and Easter basket surprises!

  • Books
  • Coloring books and activity books
  • Puzzles
  • Craft supplies
  • Colored paper
  • Stickers
  • Flash cards

Personal Items & Extras


Believe it or not, you can find a lot of everyday items, even name-brands, at the dollar store for less!

  • Tissues
  • Lint roller
  • Hair accessories such as headbands and hair ties
  • Hair brush
  • Name brand / dentist recommended toothbrushes
  • Name brand make-up, lotion, and toiletries
  • Dixie cups
  • Books
  • Cookbooks
  • Pet toys
  • Photo albums
  • Flower pots
  • Watering cans
  • Wind chimes or outdoor decor

Don’t forget to check for coupons before you shop! Brad’s Deals highlights both online and printable coupons and deals for Dollar GeneralDollar Tree and Family Dollar, among others.

What NOT To Buy At The Dollar Store

Of course every store varies and there can be some fantastic brands of these below items, but generally, these items should be avoided:

  • Power Strips, Electrical Cords and Electronics: Any time something electrical is made with lesser quality materials, it can lead to electrical fires and a generally subpar device.
  • Batteries that Contain Carbon Zinc: Inferior batteries can cause serious damage since they can leak. Also, they run out of juice a lot sooner than mainstream brands.
  • Vitamins and Medication: Studies have shown that vitamins and medication at the dollar store are often missing essential ingredients and aren’t as strictly regulated by the FDA.
  • Oven Mitts and Knives: These items simply don’t work as well as the more expensive variety.
  • Toys that can break into small pieces: Any plastic toys that can easily break into smaller pieces aren’t a good idea for the kiddies.
  • Cotton Swabs: They have a tendency to break easier and since the name brand is not much more, you’re better off going with that.
  • Off-Brand Makeup, Shampoo and Conditioner, and Lotions: While some people swear by these dollar store products to save money, it really depends on the specific item. Many of these items are filled with chemicals that could be harsh on your skin and dry out your hair. Plus, they may not be allergy tested.
  • Candles: Generally, candles don’t burn long and omit a less-than-desirable odor.
  • Glue and Crayons: These items simply do not work as well, and you’ll be spending more to replace them.
  • Pet Food: Depending on the product, some pet foods you’d find at the dollar store may not be as carefully regulated as other stores.
  • Kids’ Floaties (Flotation Devices): With anything involving safety, you’re better off paying more for a stronger, more durable flotation device.
  • Some Cleaning Supplies: Much of the feedback on dollar store cleaning supplies is they are more diluted than a regular brand.

What’s the best thing YOU’VE ever found at the dollar store? Let us know in the comments!