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Dime store to Dollar Tree: A shopper's dream

October 20, 2012

I grew up with my nose pressed against the glass containing an assortment of nuts and candies at the old Woolworth Store which was the anchor of the downtown area during my formative years.

I was usually clutching two, thin dimes which was the grand total of my disposable income back in the day. After all, my weekly allowance was only 35 cents, and half had to go to the movie theater for Saturday’s triple feature.

It’s a natural transition for me to spend at least one afternoon a month in The Dollar Tree with three dollar bills which is still about the sum of my disposable income!

It’s not that I’m cheap. I just enjoy looking at things that still cost a dollar in this $19.99 world.
And, I can get out of the store with a big bag of stuff without even having to break a ten.  

One of the singular joys of dollar-store shopping is finding a bargain among the odd orphans of mass production. I have a complete set of water goblets I like to call “Recession glass,” a take-off on the very popular Depression glass of the last century.  I could buy barely one stem of my fancy goblets for what I paid for the whole set of Recession Ware, and my family can feel free to smash them up against the wall at our Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m especially indebted to The Dollar Tree for saving me an estimated $6,000 a year in replacement costs for my reading glasses. I buy a handful each month — one for the car, five for the home, two for my neighbor’s house and one for each of my favorite handbags.

I leave them all over the place — in restaurants, at church, in the changing room of department stores. What the heck, it’s part of the cost of doing business if you answer to the name “Deluded Diva.”

The Dollar Tree affords you the opportunity of squandering your child’s college fund, one dollar at a time. And you gotta love the  bizarro versions of Pepto-Bismol (Pink Bismuth) and ChapStick (Chap-Ex).
Ditto for lipstick. 

A tube of Estee Lauder will run you about $22.50 at the cosmetic counter of a major department store, while a tube of “Este Lawber” is a buck at "The Tree.” I just hope they got the lead out.

While old-time, one-buck peddlers hawked mostly cheap plastic products that wore out in a matter of days (but could clog a landfill for a lifetime), nowadays, many dollar stores sell merchandise made of real glass, stainless steel, ceramics or fabric (and not polyester, which is just plastic in disguise). 

Just this week I visited “The Tree” to look for some horn-rimmed glasses for my Colonel Sanders Halloween costume, and came out with two bottles of Awesome cleaner (which is truly awesome), a new Chartreuse cutting board for my kitchen and a loaf of bread which would have set me back $3 at the supermarket.

It’s the thrill of the hunt and finds like these that keep me coming back for what has become a national sport in America.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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