Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Shopping For Your Home At The Dollar Store

A stock image from a Google image search, but funny enough, this is the Parkdale location I frequent.

I'm a cheap little lady, so when I wrote about organizing my baking cupboard, I mentioned that I wanted to talk about the premise of shopping for home necessities at the dollar store (specifically Dollarama, in this case). If you've ever been to a big-box dollar store, you've surely gone in for one item (or none at all) and come out having spent $40. This is much easier these days, with no dollar store truly charging $1 anymore, but the majority of things you can buy there for $1, $2, or $3 are still a pretty good deal. Take the jars for my baking cupboard; even paying a maximum of $3 a jar was still easily a third of price I'd be paying in a proper store for the same quality.

Buying large amounts of apartment necessities never really occurred to me until I was standing in a checkout line, watching a young couple in front of me unload a cart full of stuff that clearly indicated they'd just finished moving into their first place; brooms, candles, plates, cookware. It suddenly dawned on me that I would have immediately gone to Wal-Mart for a broom and never to Dollarama. Since then (and since my unemployment), Dollarama has always been my first stop before going shopping for small housewares and knickknacks (is that one word?)

Obviously, some things aren't a deal. When I bought a mini-pack of Clorox wipes for $1, it seemed like a good deal until I saw the same pack at Wal-Mart for 97¢. That's not much, but you get the idea. I do buy a bit of food there (non-perishables), but to play it safe, pay the extra 50¢ for the brand name and maybe stay clear of the tuna; some things just shouldn't be sold as a discount item.

Some of my favourite dollar store finds.

The key to successful dollar store shopping for your home is still having standards; yes, you could buy everything you think you might use later on because it's cheap, but junk is always junk unless you truly have a purpose behind buying it.

a) What will you use it for?
The big question is, will you be able to take it home and put it to use immediately? Know where you're going to place it? What the specific purpose is? Don't buy things you "think" you'll use, buy things that you see a meaning in owning. I wasn't looking for a new measuring cup, but when I saw it I knew it was better than the cheap, broken plastic one I owned currently.

b) Could a similar item be cheaper somewhere else?
There are cleaning items like Lysol wipes and toilet cleaner. However between size and quantity, brand name items like this aren't a great deal. The $2 wipes are for half the amount you would buy in store, and the toilet cleaner at $3 is likely more than Wal-Mart charges. Know the base price of items you're going in for. Items like my baking jars were a no-brainer since I knew they were great quality for a buck or two. Shop around before or after visiting the dollar store.

c) Do you like it?
Many times I'll buy something at Dollarama because I have a use for it and it's cheapest, but in the end I'll toss it a year later because I can't stand to look at it anymore. I needed a watering can long before I found the one I own now (above), but I waited until the spring stock came in and a cute little metal, turquoise one popped up rather than the standard white plastic ones available year-round. A purchase is far more useful if you're proud to own it in every aspect.

So here are some excellent product examples that you may or may not think of buying at places like Dollarama:
Betty Crocker (and other) cooking utensils
Bathroom supplies (I got my tub plug, shower curtain, liner, and rings here and they're all great)
THE BEST. Come here before buying painting/hardware supplies at any other store. I've painted all my apartments with Dollarama supplies.
Selection varies throughout the year, but you can find some pretty decent linens (also, DIY tiling supplies)
Bulbs, plugs, mini-lights; all very cheap and very reliable (just don't overload them as a small electrical fire proved)
Home decor - curtains, tie-backs, stencils, much more.
Gardening. Depends on seasonality, but I got some pots, soil, watering can, etc.

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