What’s the Best Dollar Store? I Tried the 3 Biggest Chains

A sign for the dollar tree is shown next to a clear blue sky.

Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

In theory, the dollar store seems like it might be a one-way ticket to paradise. A store full of all of the items you need and, yes, some of the items you want — all for the price of a dollar. What could be better?

But at the end of 2021, popular chain Dollar Tree announced that it would be raising the price on most of its products from $1.00 to $1.25. The traditional dollar store was becoming a dollar store in name only.

Other businesses like Dollar General and Family Dollar might sound comparable, but they just sell their items for less. Dollar Tree was the last of the behemoths to inhabit the true ethos of a dollar store. And this year, even that last shred of vintage Americana died.

Still, we’ll leave you with a silver lining here: Dollar stores remain an inexpensive alternative to the big box stores where you’ll typically find your essentials, like laundry detergent, trash bags and body wash. In fact, you might be surprised by what you can find for a discount at the dollar store, items like socks, vases, greeting cards and even party supplies.

But is it really cheaper — and worth the potential inconvenience — than simply going to your local grocery store, Walmart or Amazon? We crunched the numbers to find out how each dollar store compares on the variety of products you need — and how they compare to the big box stores themselves.

And when we say crunch the numbers, we mean compare prices. We can’t ultimately decide which option will be best for you based on location, access and products. But we can tell you which will give you the most bang for your buck.

What I Bought (and How Much It Cost)

Our methodology is simple: We picked 10 items you need around the house and compared prices at three…

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