The dollar stores near you can be magical places where a whole lot of money can be saved. But if you’re buying the wrong things, you could actually be spending more than you have to. There are situations where you’ll find better deals elsewhere, and also times when you’re better off spending a bit more so as not to sacrifice on quality. Check out some dollar store buys you’ll probably want to avoid:


While you might be tempted to buy toys for $1, there’s a trade-off when you buy toys this cheaply – especially if you’re buying baby toys. Dollar store toys are made cheaply, so they could be dangerous if and when they break. Since baby toys usually go directly into baby’s mouth, you’ll want to be especially careful about what toys, if any, you purchase from the dollar store.

Canned Food

It’s usually possible to get generic cans of food cheaper at Walmart or on sale at your local grocery store. Also, dollar store canned food and packages could come in smaller packages, so when doing your comparison shopping, keep an eye on the unit price on packaging.

Plastic Kitchen Utensils

You know those black plastic utensils that you can get for a dollar each in the kitchen aisle? Well, there’s a reason they’re so cheap. They may contain high levels of bromine, a flame retardant that has been link to birth defects, cancer and impaired brain development. Though brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are being phased out of being used in the US, suppliers looking to cut costs will often use recycled content (often old electronics that could content BFRs) to make cheap plastic goods. And that’s how these good can potentially fly under the radar.


From Kiplinger:

Consumer Reports found that dollar-store multi-vitamins didn’t always have the amount of nutrients claimed on the label. And others didn’t dissolve fast enough to be absorbed by the body. You may be better off getting vitamins from a well-known store brand, such as Rite Aid, Walgreens or CVS.


Cheap batteries are likely not going to last that long. According to Saving Advice, a generic dollar store battery has about 1/16 of the life expectancy of a brand name battery. They’re also more prone to leakage, so in this situation, it’s better to go with higher quality alkaline batteries.


You may be tempted to head to the dollar store to pick up candy for trick-or-treaters, but you’re better off going to the supermarket and paying for bulk candy. The quantity of candy you’ll find being sold at most dollar stores will typically be less than what you’d find in a convenience store or grocery store – and the packages are likely to be half-filled with air.

Extension Cords and Power Strips

Buying these from the dollar store may not only be a bad idea; it may also be unsafe. They’re made with cheap, flimsy plastic that won’t likely protect your electronics and would be a fire hazard in your home. They could also have fake UL labels, so it’s just better all around to buy quality cords and strips from a hardware or department store. They’ll cost a bit more, but they’ll last for much longer and they’ll protect your electronics.


You’re not likely to find good-quality, sturdy tools at the Dollar Store. So if you but a tool for a dollar at the Dollar Store, don’t expect to get much use out of it. And as far as safety is concerned, be sure to take care when using cheap tools; they could easily break while in use and cause injuries.