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4 Dollar Store Items That Are Better Than the Name-Brand, Retail Experts Say

There's no need to pay full price for these everyday essentials.

Dollar stores can be great for shoppers on a budget, but it's no secret that they're not always the best options out there for all of your purchases. In fact, many of the bargain chains can sometimes cost more than their big box store competitors and lack essentials like fresh food that can make them a true one-stop option. However, that doesn't mean they're not a good resource for other essential products. Read on to find out which dollar store items retail experts say are better than name-brand.

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Garden decor

woman taking her tools down the garden
iStock / sturti

Getting your yard to look perfect might start with finding the right landscaping approach, but it often requires a little extra to take it to the next level. And according to experts, you can get everything from solar lights to birdhouses at dollar stores without blowing out your budget.

"Unless you're creating a backyard oasis full of high-end items, the garden decor sections at dollar stores are usually enough for what most people need," says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with "They're often seasonal, so you can pick up themed pieces that fit a particular time of year or holiday, and for much less than if you were to shop at home improvement stores, big-box retailers, or especially nurseries."

Planters and flowerpots

pot of lavender flowers
robertprzybysz / iStock

If you're already stopping by the dollar store to spruce up your garden, you can also find some of the best deals around on other yard essentials, including planters and flowerpots.

"Especially if you're just getting into plant parenthood, these accessories are an affordable way to get into the hobby, and the items available can be really chic looking so that they appear more expensive than you'd think," Ramhold tells Best Life. "Dollar General has some great options for $20 or less that will look nice in any setting, and Dollar Tree has even more options."

She explains that bargain stores can be a great option because they don't just feature plastic products in loud colors. Instead, you can save on purchasing "nice-looking glazed planters" and white ceramic pots that typically go for much more at home improvement warehouses or big-box stores.

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Holiday items

little Boy shopping for halloween toys wearing a protective face mask

Decorations can be a fun way to celebrate your favorite holidays, but they can also break your budget if you're not careful. That's where dollar stores can come in handy.

"This won't be true for everything, but dollar stores tend to have super affordable holiday picks compared to other shopping options around the relevant times of year—especially Dollar Tree," Ramhold tells Best Life.

Ramhold says you can get a general idea of what kinds of items they may have if you browse other times of the year when they often provide similar quality items at a lower price.

"For example, you can see right now on their website that they offered things like hanging skeletons, tinsel witch hats, and creepy gel window clings last year," she says. "Items that are out of season won't be available year-round, but you'll at least be able to get an idea of what to look for as the holidays draw closer."

"That way, if you want to shop for something like Memorial Day or July 4th, you can already find relevant 'patriotic' items such as disposable plates, centerpieces, LED lanterns, and more," she adds.

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School or office supplies

school supplies at the dollar store
emin kuliyev / Shutterstock

Many assume they have to rush to an office supply store to pick up the pens, pencils, and paper they need for each new school year or when replenishing office necessities.

But according to Ramhold, dollar stores can often be the best way to stick to your budget when buying supplies in large quantities—so long as you evaluate your needs and plan accordingly.

"If you're sending your kids back to school, you may not want to opt for notebooks at dollar stores as they may not have the perforated edges—or they may have poor perforations—which can lead to your kids getting reprimanded," she says.

"But if you're using these kinds of things for your own purposes, then it's perfectly fine to purchase these store brands from dollar stores to save money compared to the name brands."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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