Debt Reduction, Everyday Living

Understanding the “Dollar Store Economy”

The New York Times Magazine ran an article the other day called “The Dollar-Store Economy” which talked about the influx of dollar stores throughout America.

It’s an interesting article, because it talks a little bit about the “theory” behind these various stores are set up, the people who are shopping there and what they are going to need to do in the future to keep relevant and keep consumers’ attention.

I am neither a fan or a detractor of dollar stores, in fact, I went to one this weekend to pick up some things that I needed for a project that I’m working on and I found myself wondering why I do not go to the dollar store more often.

Case in point: I went to the Dollar Store on Sunday to pick up some disposable aluminum pans and tinfoil. One of my friends is having a baby and I’m getting some casseroles together to stick in her freezer for when the baby arrives. I bought three aluminum pans with lids for the casseroles and two boxes of Reynolds Wrappers – which are aluminum foil sheets (I’m also making some chicken burritos that can be frozen individually).

I have bought aluminum pans before at the grocery store, Walmart or Target. And although I cannot recall the exact cost of said pans, I know that the dollar-a-piece that I spent at the Dollar Store is cheaper than what I’ve paid before. However, I can also assert that these pans are going to be good for one time and then they will be pitched. The more expensive ones can be used a couple times before they are too battered to (safely) use anymore.

Dollar stores make me think of all sorts of questions and quandaries … i.e. – part of the problems that we have with the environment lie with the “disposable” nature of the products Americans love to consume. Do dollar stores help or hinder when it comes to this? However, a tube of Colgate toothpaste is $1. We use toothpaste every day in our household, should we endeavor to save a few cents with every tube we use? (However, this is also against one of my “new” theorems where I would like us to use personal care products in our household that are not tested on animals.)

And then my final conundrum … dollar stores have recently started carrying food products – in fact, they were advertising frozen chicken for less than a dollar per pound. (Then again, Hyvee also had split chicken breasts with skin and bone-in for .88/pound … a dime cheaper.) Would you buy food from the dollar store? Canned goods are one thing, I am skeptical of meat or produce that I would find at the dollar store. What do the rest of you think of this?

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1 thought on “Understanding the “Dollar Store Economy”

  1. I’m with you on buying meat and produce in a dollar store! And also the fact that they do have their place in this economy. They are great for the deals like you found on the foil pans.

    Where I get into trouble is all of the other “dollar stuff” that I feel that I cannot live without when I get to the register! :==)

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