Don’t Buy These 7 Things at a Dollar Store

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Dollar stores can be great places to pick up inexpensive items, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

Rather than ending up with a bargain, you could end up with junk or, even worse, something dangerous. In the video below, Money Talks News money expert Stacy Johnson rounds up the items you should probably avoid. Watch the video, and then keep reading for more information.

1. Electric cords and other electric devices

If you would rather not reduce your home to embers, we suggest you steer clear of cords and electric devices from dollar stores.

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That may sound overly dramatic, but dollar stores don’t have a great track record of quality control when it comes to cords and electronics. As far back as 1999, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned about faulty power strips, extension cords and surge protectors being sold at discount stores. More recent warnings have highlighted faulty extension cords, holiday minilights and portable heaters.

2. Toys

The problem, to be blunt, is that dollar store toys are junk.

Safety is an issue as a result. Dollar store toys are often subject to recalls because they contain lead or parts that can break off and present a chocking hazard. You can search for all the CPSC recalls here.

Beyond that, we suggest that you’re better off paying a little more and steering clear of the tears and frustration.

We’re talking about stuff that breaks if you look at it wrong. The wheels will fall off, the batteries won’t work, or your 3-year-old will snap it in two before you’ve even hit the parking lot. Then, you’ll be left a buck (or two) poorer with a broken toy and an upset child.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Maggie M

    I totally agree with this article. I only buy items that a worth a buck at dollar stores.

  • Frank Boston

    I assure you he did not test Dollar General’s Alkaline batteries up against any major brand, because they would have meet or beat them. It’s very likely he put the “heavy duty” ones (.50 cents less per AA/ four pack) up against them. Those batteries won’t power on my camera when they are new. However, the alkaline batteries will last just as long as a duracell or energizer. 400 pictures +

  • Denise

    I also discovered years ago that one should never buy generic or store brand detergents of any kind. They actually cost much more because you have to use so much.

    • speaksthetruth

      bleach is the same any where

  • transmitterguy

    I only buy candy bars at the dollar store. Nothing else is a bargain when you figure the cost per ounce and compare it to walmart.

  • BigDog40

    Buy your greeting cards at the Dollar Store. 2/$1

  • BobintheHeights

    Don’t buy those cheap little staplers. I bought one for my son and it broke while I was putting it together. Took it back to the store but because I no longer had the receipt, they refused to take it back. Who keeps receipts for days or weeks after purchasing something they don’t think they will be returning??

    • kimberly miller

      IDK what store it was, but if it was The Dollar Tree they generally don’t offer cash returns, but will gladly exchange the product for anything else in the store without a receipt. Anything like that make sure to ask for a manager if you’re not being accommodated.

  • Frank James

    I once bought one of those fab deals, but, from CVSdrugstore. I think it was a binoculars or something for $10. I got it home and read on the box that this item was banned in California for toxic chemicals. I wonder why my state Florida thought it was okay to sell it? Definitely, be careful and read the small PRINT before buying “a bargain.”

  • Richard R Hutchinson

    I have, in the past, checked in at Dollar Stores and can not recall having ever bought anything there……

  • Don Lowery

    As a Ham radio operator…I have found the cords at the dollar stores are perfect for making “legs” for my vertical antennas. With no wall electrical current (but electro-magnetic current lying on the ground or floor) ever going to be running through them…I just cut off the ends & hook up connectors to connect to my vertical antennas.

    • Jcatz4

      I’ll bet that some readers are wondering what is a Ham radio operator? I know because my Dad was one. I still remember his call letters – W2DYV. He would have been 100 years old this past Jan. 1st, 2015.

      • kimberly miller

        Awww! I bet you have some great memories.

  • A Medena

    Don’t buy toys at dollar store. Ridiculously low quality and can cause a real damage.

  • lynchburgbaby2281

    I know from experience that you can and do get good bargains at the Dollar Tree stores. They are true dollar stores. Full sizes, brand name and off names. Most products are good quality. Betty Crocker kitchen accessories. Super decorations for every season and occasion. Candles, holders, picture frames, books, and so much more. Use your heads when you use laundry and cleaning products. Brand name candy, snacks, and drinks. It’s time to stop bashing REAL dollar stores.

    • kimberly miller

      In college I worked (briefly, part time) at corporate head quarters for one of the “true” big-name dollar stores. You can definitely get some awesome deals (as you mentioned, brand name candy, decorations and I especially like the fifty cent greeting cards and gift bags). A little known fact is many of the well known brand name items when it comes to, for example, household supplies (ie; utensils, soaps, ziplock bags) are made especially for dollar stores using lower cost materials. So very often you’re not getting the same quality item as you’d get for triple the price at another retailer even though it looks EXACTLY the same. Lots of the brand-name cleaning products were watered down. Another thing to look carefully at if you’re a penny pincher is the amount you’re getting in a box. For example a bag of brand name Ziplock bags may have the same exact large size boxing that you’d see in a grocery store for two dollars, but if you compare what’s IN the box you may be getting ten bags compared to thirty, so many times you end up paying more per unit. Same goes for brand name food products and less of the actual product, yet same size boxing. Looks can be deceiving. It’s whole concept and what goes on behind the curtain is actually quite interesting!

  • kimberly miller

    Shockingly the test kits the sell (drug/pregnancy/ovulation) should be exactly the same accuracy-wise as the name brand tests. There have been many tests done on this subject. The core of the test is the same, they just don’t use the fancy plastic coating and it’s strictly the strip (for example, usually pregnancy tests will have a little plastic holder with a window, but what is inside is just the strip that registers the result.