How to Buy Groceries at the Dollar Store

How to Buy Groceries at the Dollar Store

Just about everyone has heard of the variety stores where most everything costs one dollar, hence the term “dollar store.”  This concept is actually not a new one, only in the past, there were “five and dimes” or simply the “dime store.”  As you might surmise, most everything in these little stores was priced at five or ten cents.  Unfortunately, inflation has gotten the best of us.  Back in those days, five cents went much father than a dollar currently does.

Now instead of dime stores, we’ve got dollar stores.  This can sometimes be a bit misleading, since most of these stores don’t sell everything for strictly one dollar.  Most things are a dollar, but other items sell for multiples of a dollar.  Some things you’ll find at the dollar store include household supplies, games, pet food, canned food, clothes hangers, garden accessories, candy, and all kinds of other sundry things.

Most items at the dollar store are priced well below a general grocery or retail outlet, but you should still have a good handle on prices before going in.  Some of the products are either generic or private label brands created only for that particular retail chain.

Other items may be bought from other stores with overstock or a going out of business sale.  You might also find merchandise that was created specifically for a promotional event and is now out of date or out of season.

But, what if dollar stores sold fresh food item?  Too good to be true?  Well, it turns out that there are 99 cents only stores where – of course – nothing costs over 99 cents, ever.  The chain got its start in 1982 and now has more than 260 stores in four states, including Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas.  Total sales for 2006 topped a billion dollars.

The chain claims to be the longest running single price retail chain in the nation, with deep discounts on new, brand name items.  You might be pleased to learn that some of their merchandise includes fresh fruits and vegetables, deli items, frozen food, and sometimes even fresh meat.

Deli items consist mainly of cold cuts.  The store also carries canned food and other basic grocery staples, alongside health, beauty, and personal hygiene items.  Inventory varies, and not all items are brand name.

Some items recently advertised for 99 cents include cantaloupe, one and a half pounds of plums, a dozen eggs, 32 ounces of milk, and five pounds of potatoes.  And, even a large watermelon for – you guessed it – 99 cents.  Of course, the ad didn’t mention what size those eggs are.  And, some snooty wine drinkers are enjoying 99 cent wine too.

Until recently, these types of stores were thought of as low quality stores that were only in poor neighborhoods, with products bought by people who were willing to sacrifice name brands for quality to save a buck.  Of course, that mentality has changed now that food and gas prices have spun out of control.  Now, everybody’s looking for bargains.

99 cents only stores are usually clean and well kept, with friendly, helpful staff.  Shelves are fully stocked and neatly organized, aisles are wide and easy to navigate, and the overall atmosphere of the store is pleasant.

You can even pick up the 99 cents only cookbook: gourmet recipes at discount prices.  If you live in one of the four states where the chain has retail stores, its worth the extra gas to trim your food budget.  You’ll be amazed when you see what you can get at 99 cents per item.

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