Thrifty Thursday – Dollar shops, Aladdin’s Cave or Deadly Trap?

Last year a new dollar shop opened at my local shopping centre.  The entire family happened to be down there and we were so excited by all the amazing things we found in this new and exciting store.  And it was so cheap!!!  How considerate to have a big stack of baskets by the front door, because my arms were getting full.  By the time we were half way around the store Mr D stopped dead in his tracks and declared “It’s a trap!”, and hurried us out of there without all the goodies in our basket.  You know what … I can’t even remember what was in the basket, or why I needed it so desperately at the time.

I have always been a fan of dollar and discount stores.  They are a god-send at 6pm Saturday when you realise you need some LED lights for your market display tomorrow.  You can find gift boxes, greeting cards, scented candles, sticky-backed bling, fancy dress costumes, vege seeds and cd holders, and things you never even realised you needed.  They are cheap and cheerful, and you can treat yourself to a nailpolish for $2 to make you feel good.

HOWEVER … it is all too easy to fill your basket and spend $20 or $50 or more, when you only popped in to kill a bit of time.  Keep in mind that if you are trying to streamline your home and get rid of the clutter, the discount/dollar store is a double edged sword.  Yes, you can find great tubs & baskets to help with your organising.  But you can also come home with a bunch of stuff that seems like a good idea at the time, then you end up chucking it out in a few months time because it’s broken or doesn’t do the job.  You also get what you pay for.  If you want a good quality combination lock, perhaps a $2.50 lock from the dollar store isn’t the best level of security.  You might feel like you’re getting a bargain, but it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it, or it breaks the first time you use it.

So, I challenge you, next time you visit a dollar or discount store, go with a list and a purpose, and before you head to the checkout with your basket full of bargain $1 mugs, $2 knitting wool and pink screwdriver set, ask yourself if you really do need it.  Be honest with yourself, and decide whether the $15 you’re about to spend could be spent better elsewhere on a nice lunch, coffee with a BFF or put toward a debt or savings.

Do you love dollar stores, or hate them?  Browse or get in, get out ASAP?  Got any tips or stories about amazing or tragic buys?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, or over at the Cake & Enemy facebook page.

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3 thoughts on “Thrifty Thursday – Dollar shops, Aladdin’s Cave or Deadly Trap?

  1. They are definitely a double edged sword in my household. Whilst I can browse and limit myself I can’t say the same for the other members of our household. Son wants everything he sees even though he knows he can’t have it so shopping with him is a constant stream of “no, you can’t, put it back”. Hubby even gets overtaken with all the options at times so doesn’t even enter the store unless he knows it has something specific he wants. But I love walking up and down each aisle to see the latest item as it often triggers me to think of things that I already have that can be repurposed.

  2. I have far too often spent more than I meant to in a discount store just because everything was ‘so cheap’. I’ve learned to be wary now and I’ll go and see if they’ve got the item that I need and try not to browse while I’m in there. The other thing I’ve discovered is that some of the discount stores aren’t necessarily as cheap as you might think/hope/expect. And it’s usually the next time you’re in a different discount store, looking at the same item, that you realise you paid more at the other ‘discount’ store. Hate that!

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