With more than 15,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, this Fortune 200 company is more than cheap wine glasses and party supplies. My Dollar Tree habit started in earnest about 10 years ago, when the Virginia-based discount chain opened up in the same shopping center as my favorite Super Target. From hand soap to gift bags — all for just $1 each — I was hooked.
I’m not alone. For the fiscal year that ended in February 2020, the company’s net sales amounted to about $23.61 billion.The stores are typically small and conveniently located near other suburban shopping centers. Plus, you can usually get in and out in under 10 minutes… Try that at Costco on a Saturday.
So, how does Dollar Tree sell everything for one dollar or less and still make a profit? The company saves costs by manufacturing many of its own products. With few frills right down to its concrete floors, they also buy in bulk when other companies shutter stores. Last December, Dollar Tree stocked loads of jumbo-sized Hallmark wrapping paper after the greeting card giant closed shops in some U.S. markets.
They also keep things simple. Most store layouts haven’t changed in years. Seasonal decorations are front and center. The party supplies and gift bags are on the first aisle and far right wall. The reusable food containers and kitchen tools are on the far left side of the store. Hersheys and Dove chocolate bars are at eye-level at the check-out registers. The helium balloons emblazoned with ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Get Well!’ hover near the ceiling.
Over the years, I’ve honed my shopping skills there, uncovering true deals and figuring out what I’m better off buying elsewhere. I’ve also learned to buy only what I truly want and need, because if it’s not useful, what’s the point?
Here are eight of my favorite money savers I discovered at Dollar Tree:
Greeting Cards & Thank You Notes
In recent years, Hallmark began a partnership with Dollar Tree to sell two-for-a-dollar discount greeting cards. The low-priced cards are great for mailing to friends and family you can’t visit in person because of the global pandemic, or when you forget it’s Teacher Appreciation Day or Administrative Assistant’s Day or your co-worker’s birthday. They also sell eight-packs of thank-you and blank notes for just $1.
Dental Hygiene Products
Before the pandemic, when we took weekend trips to visit family or go to the beach, I always planned a trip to the Dollar Tree to pick up new toothbrushes and toothpaste. They have a variety of name brands including Crest and Colgate, often selling two- and three-brush packs. You can find toothbrushes with soft bristles, too, not just the extra firm ones that grate your gums.
School & Office Supplies
When your child tells you at 6 p.m. his or her school project is due in the morning, and you need a poster board asap, this section can be a life-saver. The school and office supply aisle is a favorite with my 9-year-old daughter who gravitates to all things rainbows and unicorns these days. They offer on-trend writing journals and paper folders, plus standard office supplies such as multi-packs of ink pens, pencils, paper clips, tape, thumb tacks, desk calendars and more.
Sliced Bread (and buns)
The PennyHoarder staff tipped me off to this deal a few years back. The Dollar Tree locations in my area stock Bunny Bread, which sells for $2.99 at a nearby Publix grocery store. They also carry eight packs of hot dog and hamburger buns, plus bagels and sometimes bags of croissants still in date, of course. With everyone at home, a loaf of bread doesn’t go as far as it used to. A family of four will need 16 slices of bread if everyone has two grilled cheeses at lunch.
Readers & Sunglasses
The readers I’m talking about are glasses with magnifying lenses for the mostly over 40 set who don’t need real prescriptions yet, but could use a little help with the fine print. Dollar tree offers standard styles such as faux tortoise shell frames in a variety of magnifications. (I’m staring through a pair with 1.5 magnification as I write this.) They also sell eyeglass repair kits, hard-sided cases for glasses and lens wipes.
Arts & Crafts
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep people indoors, it’s important to have activities for kids and adults to do when we aren’t staring at screens for work and school. Enter Crafter’s Square, an expanded arts and crafts section featuring full-size acrylic paints and brushes, plus canvas boards, and wooden items such as miniature birdhouses and toy cars ready to paint. For just a few dollars, you can provide hours of fun for kids and adults. As the holidays approach, Dollar Trees also are stocking two-packs of ready-to-paint ceramic ornaments shaped like stars and trees and snow people.
Gift Wrap & Bags
You will be hard pressed to find a better deal on gift bags and tissue paper anywhere ever. Tubes of Hallmark gift wrap have already appeared again at my local Dollar Tree, with some styles selling at two for a dollar. Similar rolls of wrapping paper on Hallmark’s website sell for $4.99 each. And when it comes to gift bags, the paper bags with a matte finish and stiff handles are my favorite. They typically sell in packs of two or three for a dollar. There are plenty of glossy decorated bags as well, perfect for gifts for children. Pro tip: If you see a bag you like near the holidays, snap it up. The cutest designs usually go first.
In this day and age, as we fight germs the way our favorite superheroes slay villains, the shelf life of a toilet brush should be brief. If you replaced your toilet brush with one from Dollar Tree every six months, you would spend roughly $2 plus tax a year to keep your bowls sparkling clean. The toilet scrubbers feature strong bristles that stand up just as well as the grocery store brands priced at three times as much. They also come with a stand. (All for a dollar!)
MORE SMART HOLIDAY SPENDING TIPS FROM HERMONEY:
- Create an effective holiday budget — start early, be cutthroat.
- Holiday Season 2020: How Shopping And Celebrating Will Be Different
- Incorporate these six painless ways to save money on gifts.
- Clear your head and master your holiday spending with these mind-over-money tips from behavioral economist Dan Ariely.
JOIN US: How are you handling the pressures of holiday spending? Join us in the private HerMoney Facebook group and share your money saving tips — and pick up a few new ones!