This article was done by a shopper at a Dollar Tree and she explains aisle by
aisle what products are available and the money saving products that are
available when shopping for Dollar Store Merchandise.
Cruising through the Dollar Tree store on Livermore's Railroad Avenue,
Pleasanton resident Anna Guzman lingers over a selection of gift bags and
"These are the best deals," she says as she puts a birthday gift bag into her
shopping basket and heads off toward the canned food aisles.
By the time she's done, Guzman has amassed 14 items including holiday
decorations and hand soap. She knows her purchases will ring up to be no more
than $14, plus tax, because of the name on the storefront.
In a tough economy, business is booming at deep discount stores such as Dollar
Tree and the comparable 99 Cent Only stores. While many retailers are reporting
declining profits or losses, Dollar Tree officials say sales this past quarter
increased 11.6 percent.
"People are smart and they know value or a good deal when they see it," Shelly
Davis of the Dollar Tree stores says of the increasing sales and, logically, a
related surge in their stock price this year. "Why would you spend $10 on a gift
bag when your gift only cost $15?"
Davis says the Dollar Tree can offer items seemingly worth more than a buck
because of company logistics and good relationships with suppliers.
But, we wondered, can you actually get anything good for a buck? So we stopped
by a Dollar Tree and a 99 Cent Only store with $20 and found stocking stuffers,
foods, household products and baby items. And, much to our surprise, we found
stuff we actually liked and could use.
We broke our finds into four categories: Buys that surprised; gonzo gifts; had
to haves; and, just for fun, weird stuff.
Buys that surprised
Items found: Miss Elizabeth's Mini Scrapbook Kit, Softsoap Elements Milk Protein
& Honey, Dole romaine salad mix, Bella Fruta cucumbers and Reynolds Wrap tin
foil (20 square feet).
Why we chose them: A recent trip to a discount store revealed a huge
scrapbooking section with similar items to those at the dollar store, perfect
for our budding scrapbook hobby. And we were happy to find a hand soap with a
familiar brand name that sells at the local grocery store for $2.69.
Our hearts were aflutter when we saw healthful options in the fresh food aisle,
including the romaine mix and cucumbers, which retail for nearly twice the price
in grocery stores.
And we're always running out of tin foil. Why not pick up a small box? It's only
Items found: Birthday card, unisex birthday gift bag, picture frame for baby and
a 63-piece Disney "Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End" puzzle.
Why we chose these: The birthday card was simple, cute and can be used for
anyone, not to mention it cost just 50 cents rather than the $1.95 written on
the back. Couple the card with the birthday bag and we have a nice presentation
shell for a birthday party gift that cost only $1.50, as opposed to the $4 or $5
we would have spent for a gift bag and card at other stores.
At each of the stores we visited, there were tons of picture frames. We chose a
baby-theme one that would be perfect in a little girl's nursery. And the puzzle
was a shocking discovery, a stocking-stuffer well worth the $1 price tag for any
Had to haves
Items found: A small blue baby blanket with a stitched cow in the corner, a box
of 220 facial tissues and a funny monkey bath rag.
Why we chose these: The baby blanket was just adorable and we're sure we can
find someone who needs one to use during breast-feeding or in the cold winter
months. We're sure someone, likely us, will get a cold this winter and having a
big box of tissue available in the office is handy for such occasions. And the
funny monkey bath rag was a purchase for a friend's toddler. We're not sure if
we're willing to give it up!
Items found: Zit Poppers candy, Who's Your Daddy energy drink, a miniature
cactus, a Noah's Ark toy set and a Grow Your Own Personal Trainer toy.
Why we chose these: Well, we know there's a lot of disgusting candy out there
but ooey, gooey gummy candies that are "plump and ripe" for popping were just
over-the-top. Unfortunately, our candies were damaged in the packages, robbing
us our chance to pop the gumdrop-size sugar zits ourselves.
There's no shortage of energy drinks out there, but we were intrigued by the one
asking us about our parental lineage. Upon testing, Who's Your Daddy drink
tasted like every other sugary soda out there.
The cactus looks as if it came from another planet. For $1, we can marvel at
this natural wonder as we prick our fingers on its nearly invisible red spikes.
We looked for funky toys and we found them. The Noah's Ark set could have been
more complete — with, say, two pigs instead of one or some sort of boat. Sven,
the miniature personal trainer that grows 600 percent its size, promises he'll
never ask us to do squats. We think we'll keep him around to motivate us to eat
well and try not to grow to 600 percent of our original size this holiday