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10 Tech Items You Should Not Buy at the Dollar Store

It's no secret that dollar stores are packed with great deals. How do they do it? By buying up aging inventory from larger retailers, and by finding additional products at rock-bottom prices. It's a great business model, but it also means that some of those low prices aren't quite the bargain they seem. Here are 10 tech items you should NOT buy at the dollar store!

Bookshelf speaker system for home entertainment.Nor Gal/Shutterstock

Speakers

Speakers for your home theater or computer are delicate pieces of equipment, carefully calibrated to deliver the highest quality audio. Unfortunately, the ones offered at dollar stores are usually tinny and subpar. They’ll produce sound, and if all you need is something in the background they may be great, but if you want true audio quality you’re better off looking elsewhere. Add these Dollar Store items that aren’t actually deals to the “do not buy” list we’re compiling here. 

Power outlet adapter white with 3 pins swiss against white backgroundOctavian Lazar/Shutterstock

Adapters

Whether you’re traveling abroad or dealing with old, ungrounded outlets, a good adapter can be worth its weight in gold. However, the ones found on dollar store shelves are usually of limited use. Adapters are still mechanical devices, and their connection can weaken and wear out over time. The lower quality items sold at a dollar store often wear out very quickly indeed. Don’t think that you have to stop going to the Dollar Store completely. Here are the things you should have been buying at the Dollar Store this whole time.

USB flash drive and Laptop TK 1980/Shutterstock

USB Sticks

USB sticks have become a ubiquitous symbol of modern plug-and-play technology. These storage devices are widely available for a modest price. In order to compete, dollar store versions usually have decorative add-ons, such as a knock-off cartoon character or decorative flair. These “added value” features often add weight and cause more problems than they’re worth. Ever wondered what the difference between Dollar Store and Dollar General actually is? We’ve got the answer.

Orange extension into power outlet indoorsAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Extension Cords

It may seem like nothing could be simpler than an extension cord. Unfortunately, some dollar store suppliers skip best practices and try to avoid proper certification. Counterfeit Underwriters Laboratory (UL) labels are a genuine problem, and are often found on devices at deep discount stores. Next: How do Dollar Stores actually make money?

USB cable for smartphone on wood background.iceink/Shutterstock

Phone Chargers

Chargers for phones or other electronic devices have to supply a set amount of power. Too little, and the device will take forever to charge; too much and the delicate circuitry may be damaged. The risk of picking up chargers at dollar stores is that the power supply may be erratic, possibly causing more headaches than it’s worth, and definitely making it one of the tech items you should not buy at the dollar store. Besides, those chargers aren’t just a dollar anyway, even at the Dollar Store. Here’s how many products at the Dollar Store actually sell for one dollar.

Earphones on wood backgroundWeerameth Weerachotewong/Shutterstock

Earbuds/Headphones

Like tiny speakers, headphones and earbuds are relatively easy to make but difficult to make well. If you simply want a spare pair of earbuds to keep on hand, dollar stores have great options. If you really want to hear music the way it was intended, you’re better off spending a little bit more and getting a quality device.

yellow alkaline batteriesCarlos Amarillo/Shutterstock

Batteries

There are two problems with buying batteries at dollar stores. First, if the battery was bought as aging stock from a larger retailer, those name-brand batteries may be approaching their expiration date. Second, some low cost, off-brand batteries may be made with carbon-zinc rather than alkaline. That means they are more prone to leakage and have a shorter lifespan. This is only the start of it all. Here are more reasons why you shouldn’t buy your batteries at the Dollar Store.

HDMI cable isolatedSS_FOTO/Shutterstock

HDMI Cables

HDMI cables are an interesting case. Like many of the other chargers and cables on this list, dollar store versions often skimp in essential areas such as the head/cable connection, meaning that they are more prone to failure. At the same time, HDMI cables purchased at larger retail locations tend to be hugely overpriced (often three or four times the actual market value). Your best bet is to check online at an electronics specialty site and get a quality cable at a reasonable price. You may want to leave these tech items out of your Dollar Store cart, but these are the cooking supplies you should be getting at the Dollar Store.

Black-orange cordless screwdriver drill. Power tool for construction and DIY.Nor Gal/Shutterstock

Power Tools

As a general rule, power tools found in dollar stores are bottom-of-the-barrel devices. If you’re going to start a project that will likely destroy a tool by its end, that can be fine. But if you want to keep that tool for years to come, you probably shouldn’t lay down money for a power tool at the dollar store. Besides, these Dollar Store items are actually cheaper at Costco.

hand the child put the batteries in the blue toyElRoi/Shutterstock

Battery-Operated Toys

Dollar store toys are a mixed bag and should be examined closely before purchase. Keep an eye out for fragile parts that could shatter under the hands of an enthusiastic child, and keep in mind that the lifespan of any electronic components could be very short. Learn some more of the secrets Dollar Store employees won’t tell you.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Dan Stout
With over a decade spent on residential and commercial construction job sites, Dan Stout has the hands-on experience to speak to builders, contractors, and homeowners with the voice of authority. Much of his work centers on demystifying the building industry by simplifying construction jargon for homeowners and laying out best business practices for contractors. Dan's non-fiction has appeared on numerous blogs and vendor websites, while his prize-winning fiction has been featured in publications such as Nature and The Saturday Evening Post. His debut novel Titanshade is scheduled for a 2019 release from DAW Books.