Monday, July 7, 2014

Dollar Store Love: How To Shop At Dollar Stores

If you have been following my blog for a while, you already know about my rapturous love of the 99 Cents Only Stores and the Dollar Tree.  If I could, I would shop there every day because they are constantly getting new stuff every day. As a matter of fact, on the days that I don't make it there, I feel horrible because I am always afraid that I am missing out on a great deal.  Maybe I have a shopping problem or maybe it's my OCD, but I think about shopping there obsessively.  I even dream about it. I was so extremely elated when a 99 Cents Only Store opened up on my side of town. I try to go at least 2-3 times a week.  

If I told you about my dollar store finds, half of  you probably wouldn't believe it, because I find such good stuff! So I figured I'd started sharing my hauls with y'all.  Over the years I have found a ton of awesome deals and saved a ton in the meantime. My favorite things to purchase include organic veggies and tons of gluten free foods and snacks which are super expensive at the grocery store.  I don't even buy gluten free products at the regular grocery store, I just buy the things I find at the 99 Cents Store which gets a lot of gluten free food.  And when I do find these deals, I stock up big time.  I once found gluten free pasta, I bought a few packages, went home and tried them. They were so good I went back and brought home a bunch more. It lasted me for an entire year. Normally I would pay anywhere from 3.00 to 6.00 for gluten free pasta. So you can imagine how much I saved.

So here are my tips for shopping at the 99 Cents Only and Dollar Tree stores to get the most bang for your buck.
  1. Walk every aisle and look at everything.  Never go when you are in a hurry. Perusing every aisle is how you find the best stuff.
  2. Do not take anyone shopping with you who doesn't share your love of deal hunting. It can take a while so I highly recommend leaving the kids at home if you have little ones.
  3. Keep an eye out for brand name items, they are everywhere.
  4. Don't be afraid to try new products.  The are cheap enough so that if the items don't perform the way you expect them to, you are only out a buck.  I have found some really great products this way.
  5. Check the expiration dates!  Nothing is a good deal if it ends up in the trash before you can eat it.  (Store cereals, pastas, granola bars, cookies and crackers in the freezer to prolong the shelf life.)
  6. If you see something you really like, stock up!  The item probably won't be there the next time you go, especially if it is a brand name item. 
  7. All of the store managers have the ability to order new products, some order better than others. Get to know your area stores, you will notice that there will be product at one store but it won't be at another store. (This is very common for 99 Cents Only stores.) 
  8. Just because one store is a dud, doesn't mean the others will be. There are four 99 Cents Only store in driving distance from me. ( The two closest to me always have the best stuff.)
  9. Be super nice to the cashiers. They will tell you what days they get new merchandise if you ask nicely. 
  10. If the store is really crowded, avoid it. Go in the morning on any day of the week to avoid the crowds and get fresh product.
  11. This last one could be a little controversial because some people have objections to shelf clearing.  Here's the thing at the dollar stores, most of the them do not have product limits. If there is a ton of something, I will buy ten or twelve. If there is only three boxes of product on the shelf I will buy all of them.  Because that means that someone got there before you and left those three boxes, just so they can say that they didn't clear the shelves.  So basically what I am saying is that if you don't do it, someone else will. For example, recently my local store had PALLETS of 12 pack peanut butter Pop Tarts.  People were filling their baskets. I bought 10 boxes. I went back the next day and they were gone!  The point to this ramble, buy as much as you can afford, because the next time you need Pop Tarts they won't have any and you will be back to spending $3.49 a box for them at the grocery store. 

My latest haul Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix and Udi's Gluten Free Omega Flax & Fiber Bread, both found at the 99 Cents Only Store.

Have fun shopping!