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12 Things Dollar Store Employees Won’t Tell You

Learn why everything is usually cheaper, and what items are the best deals at your local or chain dollar or discount store.

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Shopping Habits

Everyone has their favorite places to shop and particular spending habits. Store employees tend to know what shoppers want–even before shoppers know themselves. Like knowing it might be less expensive to buy in bulk and to know to always check the expiration date, Dollar Store employees have a lot of useful information. Ever wondered how Dollar Stores make a profit? This is how Dollar Stores make money.

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We know everyone buys unnecessary things

Whether you shop at a chain dollar store such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, or your local 99 cents store, not everything that’s on sale is necessarily worth purchasing. Bryan Waring, a former Dollar Tree employee, says that you’re not alone in buying more than is necessary from these stores. “It seems basic, but everyone falls for this trap,” he says. “You go into a store where everything is cheap, and you walk out with things you don’t need.” He suggests going into a store—yes, even the dollar store—with a checklist of things you truly need.

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It might be less expensive to buy in bulk

In a Reddit AMA, an Assistant Manager at a Dollar Tree says most hand soaps for sale smell nice and work well—but there are probably better deals buying these products in bulk, rather than at the dollar store.

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Christmas Wrapping Paper Rolls
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Everything is cheaper after the holiday season

Patricia, a seasonal worker at a Dollar Tree who prefers not to share her last name, says that the post-Christmas season means even more deals on everything from decorations to sweets. “After Christmas, all the gift wrap paper went to 50 cents, and all Christmas items were half price,” she says. “Even candy bars are 89 cents versus $1.”

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Products are less expensive because of their size

In order for dollar stores to keep their prices low, product sizes are usually smaller than normal, according to Cheapism. Dollar stores aren’t the only ones guilty of this hack. Cheapism also reports Walmart is guilty of doing the same thing to lure in customers.

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ANN ARBOR, MI - AUGUST 24: Dollar Tree, whole Ann Arbor store is shown on August 24, 2014, is in a bidding war for Family Dollar, a rival.
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Employees don’t get discounts

Dollar Tree employees reportedly don’t receive discounts, although a few select accounts claim employees only receive discounts on damaged goods, per the Assistant Manager at the Dollar Tree. Here are 11 things you should have been buying from the dollar store this whole time.

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Hand of men use money from wallets. Pay the dollar Financial concepts and expenditures,

Higher-earners shop at dollar stores, too

Earning more doesn’t necessarily mean shopping at pricey stores instead of dollar stores. More than 22 percent of dollar store shoppers make more than $70,000 per year, according to the New York Times. Another report found that 29 percent of millennial households earning more than $100,000 per year shop at Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar, Forbes reports. The same report estimates that these shoppers represent 25 percent of total sales from the three combined chains. Here are 15 things you can buy on Amazon for less than a dollar.

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Young woman hands scaning / entering discount / sale on a receipt, touchscreen cash register, market / shop
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Employees are Jacks and Jills of all trades

Dollar store workers often take on multiple responsibilities and roles. A few of the chain dollar stores previously came under fire for giving managers too much responsibility to keep staffing costs low, per HuffPost.

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Household products are the best deals

Dollar stores are a catch-all for everything from cards to balloons. The most popular and best things to buy, however, are household items, Waring says. This includes toilet paper, cleaning supplies, dish rags, and paper towels. “Regular stores sell these items for prices five times what it should be,” he says.

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Woman is shopping at the supermarket with the basket to stock item.
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Avoid buying brand name items

Although you can find name-brand products at dollar stores, you can usually find these products for less at other stores, Business Insider reports. These are 32 almost invisible ways stores trick you into spending more money.

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Always check expiration dates on food

Make sure to check the expiration date on any food items you might buy from the dollar store. Some of the best options to buy include baking mixes, canned beans, and chicken broth.

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More chain dollar stores are on the way

Chain dollar store locations are growing, fast. A 2011 study found at the time that dollar store locations outnumber drug store locations in the United States, TIME reports. The two biggest dollar chains, Dollar Tree and Dollar General, have more stores combined than the six biggest U.S. retailers, according to Forbes. Plus, between 2010 and 2013, Family Dollar opened1,500 new stores—more than one a day, per the Guardian. Data from Statistia predicts the increase in dollar store locations will continue to rise between 2018 and 2021.

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Montreal, Canada _ November 27, 2017. Dollarama Retail Store Indoor Aisle with Toys, Furnitures and all the Cheap Items Available.
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The inventory constantly changes

Chain dollar stores including Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree, constantly have rotating items, so customers don’t get bored. “The fun thing is that items are constantly changing, I think that’s what excites the customer,” Patricia says. Next, check out the 21 things to never buy at the dollar store.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.