Monday, October 26, 2009

Diggin' the Dollar Store

     There is nothing like shopping at a dollar store to stock up on essentials at a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere. I'm not suggesting you do all your shopping at the dollar store, but you can find a lot of basics and even some treasures if you dig around a bit.
     The dollar store is great for greeting cards, giftwrap, party items, holiday decorations (Christmas, Halloween, Easter etc.), stationery basics, and health & beauty basics. It is also the best place to buy panty-hose, so long as you're not looking for designer ones which rip even faster than regular ones do. But don't get me started on my panty-hose conspiracy theory.
     Not everything is great quality, so my philosophy is if it's something you'll use up (like cotton balls) or don't expect it to last, then $1.00 is more than reasonable and you're getting what you paid for. If it's something you want to last longer, like a kitchen gadget, then you'll get what you paid for if it's $1.00. Just like the can opener I bought, half opened a can, and then the opener fell apart in my hands. I think the can actually opened the opener. Buyer also beware with respect to dollar store pregnancy tests.
     The bigger stores (such as Dollarama and Dollar General) have an amazing selection, and while there can be a lot of junky junk in the smaller independent stores, sometimes the little guys have unique items. For example, there is a small dollar store near my house that carries a good selection of British food items, and there is nothing like tucking into a packet of Hobnobs after a trip to the shops on the high street.
     Let's crunch some numbers. On a typical trip to the dollar store, my haul might be a box of cotton swabs, a bag of cotton balls, a pack of 25 facial wipes (make-up remover wipes), 2 birthday cards, 2 birthday gift bags, 1 pair of panty-hose, a box of thank-you cards, a 3-pack of Christmas tree ornaments, and a 2-pack of lipgloss. Eleven items, each a dollar, that's $22.00 plus taxes.
     Looking at the cost of these items elsewhere, I am going to use average prices, although any of these can be bought anywhere from Wal-Mart to Holt Renfrew, depending on how organic, designer, or fancy you want to be. Or not.
     Let's assume normally you'd pay $4.00 for a box of Q-tips, $2.00 for a bag of cotton balls, $5.00 for facial wipes, $3.00 each for 2 birthday cards, $4.00 each for 2 gift bags, $6.00 for panty-hose, $8.00 for a box of thank-you cards, $10 for the tree ornaments, and $14.00 for the 2-pack lipgloss (although you could easily pay $25 for a lipgloss at the cosmetics counter.) That's easily $63.00 plus taxes.
     Serious savings are found if you buy the basics at the dollar store. I'm not going to get into percentages to demonstrate the savings because that's not where I'm going with this. Tweaking the numbers a bunch of ways to make a point is not my thing.
     Really, truly, in the spirit of champagne taste on a beer budget, the $41.00 (or potentially more) saved can now be used guilt free for some great wine, or good eats, or some other kind of treat for yourself or anyone else. Say it with flowers. Or in Cam's case, say it with steak.  I'd probably spend it on a nice bottle  or two of a big red wine.  Based on this philosophy, I think it's no coincidence that LCBO outlets are often within a stone's throw of a dollar store.

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