http://money.aol.com/top5/general/best-dollar-store-buys-5

I have to disagree with this article in general, and in specifics.

The gist of the article is this:  some things you can buy cheap and it doesn’t matter.  Off-brands are just as good.

I agree with that principle, which was the whole reason I read the article.  However, I disagree with nearly every example they give.

Cleaning supplies, for instance.  The author states that the off brands are the same, just “a little more diluted”.  Well, yes…depending on your definition of “a little”!  Anyone who has used these knows very well that they are more than a little diluted, and you nearly always find yourself using considerably more to do the same job.  That is not a savings, any way you slice it.

Gift wrap I agree with, even though the off-brand dollar stuff is generally about the thickness of the outer skin of an onion – it doesn’t matter all that much unless you’re really trying to impress someone.

Snacks – again, I disagree.  These are typically off-brand, which means they are not the same product at all, and taste usually matters to people in this area.  Also, very frequently they have been sitting on the shelf for some time and are quite stale.  Also, you will often find that the same size bag may be less than $1.00 elsewhere, particularly if you shop sales – and it will be fresher.

Shampoo – couldn’t agree less!  This actually horrifies me, that the author is claiming that it doesn’t matter what is in your shampoo.  If you care anything about the condition or quality of your hair, it certainly does matter!  Particularly if you, like me, have a problem with alcohol drying your hair.  You may not need to pay $30 a bottle, but you definitely don’t want the $1.00 crap anywhere near your head!  And yes, there are differences in the contents, particularly in the amount of alcohol.

As to kitchen accessories, I absolutely agree that expensive is not necessarily better, except in the case of bladed utensils.  However, the examples given are absurd – the author is not even comparing identical items!  A corkscrew is unquestionably different from a bottle opener!  Also, many of these items are considerably cheaper than $1.00 if purchased at Wal-Mart or somewhere similar – the rubber scraper you pay $1.00 for at the dollar store can be purchased in a 4- or 6- pack for $1.99!

And that leads to my general objection – not only are the items the author compares generally not even the same, but the prices quoted are not, generally speaking, from places where you would normally buy these things.  Let’s see a comparison to Wal-Mart’s prices, shall we?  Or K-Mart?  Or a real grocery store like Kroger.  Why are we seeing Rite-Aid and CVS?  Do you buy this stuff there?  Because I certainly wouldn’t, unless I had a very high fever and someone else’s credit cards.

It seems to me that the author went out and found the most expensive item he/she could possibly consider similar, and priced it at the most expensive place that carried it, just to make his/her point.  Inaccurate, irresponsible, and annoying.

I think it could have been a great article, had the author chosen his/her examples with more care.  But again, you get what you pay for.  The article was, after all, free.

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