I'm well aware there is plenty to criticize about dollar stores. They proliferate cheap junk. They make it impossible for mom and pop shops to compete. The stores can be a wreck inside and out.
But they also make certain things more affordable for families, such as toilet paper and laundry detergent.
And there are some things they sell that you would simply be crazy to buy anywhere else.
Here are several of my favorites.
ReliaShave. I've mentioned this one before, but it is so worth repeating. I've gotten a ton of feedback and so many thank-yous from people who have tried these awesome, six-blade, two-for-a-dollar razors. I like them better than ones that cost 10 times as much. I can't speak for the blue "men's" razors because I haven't tried them yet but the pink "women's" razors are fantastic.
Scrub Buddies Nail Guard Sponges. My sister Karrie got me hooked on these. They hold up longer than your average sponge and never get that stinky sponge smell. Plus, you get six per pack. A three-pack of scrubber sponges will cost you $3.99 elsewhere.
(While we're on the subject of sponges, if you love Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and I do, search Amazon.com for melamine sponges. You can get 20 of them for $5.95 or 50 of them for about $9.)
Greeting cards. I am not a big fan of giving greeting cards with presents. I feel like they're kind of a waste of money, when a gift tag will do just fine. But it's a different story when it comes to sympathy cards. And if you're going to a wedding, you've got to have a nice place to put that check. What are you going to do, go to the drugstore and spend $5 on a card? No. Dollar Tree has them for 50 cents.
Blank note cards and thank-you cards are a great buy, too. They usually come eight to a pack and they're great to have on hand. I always stock up.
Planners. I keep track of appointments on my iPhone because I need the alerts and alarms to keep me in line. But I also like to have a paper copy at a glance on my desk. I came to the last page of my Dollar Tree planner in June (I bought it last July) so I browsed for a new one at Barnes & Noble recently. I loved them until I looked at their $20 price tag. I left the bookstore and made a beeline for Dollar Tree.
Gift bags. After Christmas each year, I stock up on gift bags from HomeGoods, which are the absolute best, in my opinion. But you know who has the best non-Christmas bags? Yep, Dollar Tree. And they're even less expensive than HomeGoods' on-sale bags. They're also good quality and cute. I always grab tissue paper when I'm there, too.
And, depending on what I need it for, I will sometimes grab gift wrap. It's usually thin and there's not much on a roll, but it's just going to be ripped off and thrown in the garbage anyway, right?
Mylar balloons. When the helium shortage isn't a factor (and sometimes it is, which means the supply of helium-filled balloons at the store is limited or unavailable), inflated balloons are a steal at Dollar Tree. There are tons of designs to choose from, each for a dollar. Comparable ones can cost five times as much at party stores.