5 Warnings From Ex-Dollar Tree Employees

The bargains are enticing, but there's the occasional catch.

Dollar Tree has a killer elevator pitch. The popular bargain store—which, frankly, should be called Dollar-25 Tree these days, following a recent price hike—sells everyday items at eye-watering discounts. And the chain does so pretty much everywhere, with a whopping 15,000 locations in North America. But such convenience could come with a few catches. Before you head to your local Dollar Tree, heed this advice from former employees. Read on to learn what you should double-check and what you may not want to do while in this store.

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Check the price tag.

Dollar Tree Aisle

It's called the Dollar Tree, and it made its fame selling stuff for a literal buck, but not all items come with such a low sticker price. (Allow us to remind you of that price hike.) In fact, according to some employees, several stores around the country are starting to sell items in the $3 to $5 range—which has upended the natural order of regulars.

"I've gotten a new pet peeve… when customers bring these higher priced items through my line and they didn't read the price, thinking they are getting all this good stuff for $1.25," one employee shared on Reddit. "Then they don't want it when I ring it up."

Don't buy a full cart during closing.

Dollar Tree Closing

Need to grab a major haul from Dollar Tree? Try to do so during the middle of the day, even if the timing isn't ideal. It's largely a matter of courtesy. Within 15 minutes of your local store's closing hours (which you can double-check on Google Maps or the like), you're cool buying a single item or two. But a full cart is crossing the line—and you might even find yourself turned away.

"No one wants to be ringing up a lot of [stuff] near closing," an employee explained on Reddit. "We're not going to stay past closing for your convenience."

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The store is filthier than you'd think.

Dollar Tree Aisle

You likely needn't go all first-season Covid and wipe down the items you bring home, but at least be mindful of the potential conditions at your local Dollar Tree. The chain is not exactly clean when it comes to, well, being clean.

In 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Dollar Tree to the tune of half a million bucks for operating under dangerously dirty conditions. This past January, the Food and Drug Administration uncovered a rodent infestation at a Family Dollar warehouse. (Family Dollar is wholly owned and operated by Dollar Tree.) And as Business Insider reported this year, such conditions are more common than you'd think, showing up in stores around the country.

The vitamins might not be what you're looking for.

Vitamin Label
Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

If there's one thing you should be 100 percent certain about, it's the stuff you put in your body—specifically, the vitamins. Dollar Tree's, however, aren't always the most reliable. As reported by Consumer Reports in 2012, the actual ingredients in bottles of vitamins sold at Dollar Tree didn't match the ingredients listed on the labels of those bottles. In some cases—say, if you're stocking up on vitamin D to combat a deficiency—this could have a deleterious effect on your health.

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Steer clear of the frozen meat.

Freezer Burned Ground Meat
Merrimon Crawford / Shutterstock

Dollar Tree's robust frozen section might seem like a good deal, and financially, it is. But there's something eyebrow-raising about meat. Yes, you're probably fine with the fruit, bread, snacks, and any non-perishables that populate the freezers. Steer clear, however, of frozen steak, salmon, and other animal proteins. Even the staffers do.

That's not a new development, either. "[I] definitely wouldn't buy that," one ex-employee said on Reddit seven years ago, referring to the steaks sold in the frozen foods section.

Risks aside, the meat simply tastes bad. One store manager told Mental Floss that it feels like rubber, no matter how well it tastes. "I don't eat any of the frozen fish or rib eyes," another Dollar Tree employee added. "I don't trust frozen seafood or meat that costs a dollar."

Ari Notis
Ari is an editor specializing in news and lifestyle. Read more
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