This chart reveals that dollar stores are more expensive than other stores

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Not on the chart: soda.

By fluid oz for name brand soda, it’s significantly more expensive to buy Pepsi or Coke at Dollar Tree but that’s mostly due to how soda prices often fluctuate week by week when grocery stores try to get people in their doors. So even if your local grocery store is ripping you off every few weeks, it’s usually much cheaper to buy them en bulk on the weeks they’re on sale. The store brand or off brand 2 litter soda prices are usually a dollar or less so they always beat or match Dollar Tree anytime.


Yes, buying Sharpies at Costco is cheaper per pen. As long as you need 100 pens.


Yep, I’m probably not gonna live long enough to use these 100 pens. (eyes gallon of milk)


Unfortunately, in many food-desert neighbourhoods the dollar store and the even more expensive corner deli/bodega and convenience stores are the only shopping options for groceries and consumables. They’re right there along with the payday loan storefronts, the pawnshops, the rent-to-own stores, and the dodgy used car lots in late-stage capitalism’s on-going campaign to nickel-and-dime those who can least afford it.


When I lived in NYC, I would have loved to buy some things in bulk but where would I put it?


What this sort of chart overlooks is that companies like this, especially Dollar General, tend to have a much smaller footprint and usually set up shop in pre-existing storefronts. This means they’re available to neighborhoods that wouldn’t normally have access to the larger shopping districts that usually house the Targets and Walmarts of the world. Add in the attendant cost of gas and time spent traveling to them and I’m guessing they offset quite a bit.

I am not, in any way a fan of Dollar General or similar retailers; they are able to suppress prices by paying scarcity wages and having essentially no management. However, a few years ago in the neighboring (bougie AF) town, they vigorously fought off a Dollar General that was to go into an empty storefront. But the town is full of million dollar colonial stone houses and there was no way they were going to allow a DG, even though there is already a Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Walgreens and Mobil. This wasn’t done on principled grounds that they don’t pay a living wage (hello, Dunkin’?), but rather that a DG is beneath the genteel dignity and historical aesthetic of the town (which, again has a fucking Subway). The problem with that is that there is absolutely nowhere except for bougie boutiques to buy things like socks or glue or whatever. It’s a rural area with a very high economic disparity. The nearest shopping area is about a 15 min car drive away, which is just not realistic for someone working multiple jobs on a tight income. But the reality is that they don’t want those people in town, anyway so it’s a win-win.

ETA: @gracchus beat me to it, though from the predatory angle. Both are true! These companies both provide a necessary service and function as another piece of the corporate predation on highly urban and rural areas.

EETA: But my local DG is the only place that sells Bambas and there’s no way I’m not buying Bambas!


I was in the same boat when I lived there, but unless it was middle-of-the-night desperation time I wasn’t buying groceries or toiletries at the bodega when there were other, non-bulk options in the neighbourhood. But I know there are other places in the city where those options aren’t within a 15-minute walk.


Somebody fetch Captain Vimes; I believe he is familiar with cases of this kind.


What is not in the comparison is that in $1 stores your 100% more likely to meet up with your local mutant crowd, as opposed to say the gun tooting tRump love’n whackos at a Walmart or some such.


“Oooh! That’s a good price for 12 pounds of nutmeg!”


I have never been to a Dollar tree where things cost more than a dollar- is this a California thing?


Dollar store pricing is aimed at shoppers who don’t have $10 to spend to buy a package of 20 tubes of toothpaste. The target is people who only have $1 to spend on toothpaste. They buy the one that they can afford right now because it is the cheapest price rather than the one that is more expensive but better value.

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money. Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
Terry Pratchett


Interesting. In My Area of The Country™, Dollar General always builds a new building. It’s always situated off the edge of a lower-income area, and the buildings are carbon-copies of each other.


of course – they are trapped. Can’t drive to the target out in the suburbs, nor sink $60 on a Costco membership (also out in the suburbs). So they get screwed, and taken advantage of. This stuff can be fixed - if we had leaders with some courage.


Yeah, I’m sure it varies considerably by location and cost of land. Around here, there’s no way a commercial lease is more than buying land except in an already-established commercial district. And there are loads of empty storefronts.


Dollar stores can also be found in rural areas where bigger chain stores would never consider building locations, so often times these stores are literally one of the few shopping options unless someone is willing to drive farther out to do shopping… which is not always possible or convenient. While i do think the pricing is scummy its better than nothing, though its certainly taking advantage of people who dont have options or those that dont know any better. Such is capitalism.


Are you referring to the comparison chart? It’s comparing by a common unit of measure, not by the single unit sold at Dollar Tree. It’s not saying they sell 100 sq. ft of toilet paper for $2.05; it’s saying that to buy a unit of comparison common to toilet paper (100 sq ft is about one 1000 sheet roll) you’d spend $2.05 at Dollar Tree. Buyt to get the same amount you’d buy at Target for only $1.71.

If you were in the Dollar Tree store you would probably have to buy T.P. in $1.00 rolls that have 500 sheets totaling about 49 square feet. But if you bought it at Target, you’d probably buy a 4 pack of 1000 sheet rolls for $6.84, or something like that.


I do still shop at dollar stores, but the trick is to know what to buy. It’s true that most of the stuff isn’t really that much of a deal, and some of it is very low quality, but I can buy a dollar TV dinner and stash it in the fridge at work for emergencies, same with packs peanut butter crackers, and it if goes bad or the mice get at it, no great loss. The alkaline batteries are as reliable as name brand batteries. A small size bottled iced coffee might cost the same as a Starbucks when judged by the ounce, but I usually want a smaller size.

Buying all your groceries at the dollar store is a sad state of affairs, and I hope I never get to that point.


Buying in “bulk” obviously is cheaper. Dollar store is for when you need smaller qty or portion sizes. And it’s great for people who don’t / can’t shop in bulk.

Comparing them to regular supermarkets or Costco is pretty pointless. It’s basically pointing to a sports car and complain it doesn’t have the luggage capacity of a minivan. Sure both carry people in the city.