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7 Worst Things to Buy at Family Dollar

From toys to makeup, experts say you're better off picking up these items elsewhere.

A trip to Family Dollar can be one of the easiest ways for shoppers to get practically everything they need while staying within their budget. After all, the retailer carries a wide range of products at a value that can often rival even its competitors, such as Walmart and Target. But just because the shelves are filled with low-priced items doesn't mean the bargain chain is always the best option for all your needs. Read on for the worst things to buy at Family Dollar, according to retail experts.

RELATED: 4 Dollar Tree Items to Buy Before Their Price Goes Up.

Generic spices

eight small glass jars of spices, in yellow, red, green, and white colors, on natural wood shelves

Family Dollar can be a decent place to pick up some things for your pantry, including snacks and beverages. But experts warn that home chefs might want to skip one section altogether: Generic spices.

"In general, ground spices are less flavorful," says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with "This means you'll have to use more in your dishes to get the intensity you're looking for, so generics may not be the best value that they seem at first."

She also cautions that the generic cinnamon sold at Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores were recently recalled for containing elevated levels of lead.

"There's no reason to risk buying generic spices under the guise of saving money when it could end up leading to health issues," she says. "Instead, head to the international aisle at your favorite grocery store or Walmart and check out the array of affordable spices you can find there from brands you'll actually recognize."

Electronics and accessories

Woman Holding a Phone Attached to a Portable Charger
StaceStock / Shutterstock

Of all the items on the shelves at Family Dollar, electronics and their accessories are one of hardest bargains to pass up. However, experts say you could actually do harm to your device with one of these discount products.

"I would hesitate to buy earbuds, charging cords, or anything else that you plug into your smartphone, tablet, or computer," Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at, tells Best Life. "This is one of those instances where you get what you pay for and you don't want to take a chance of doing damage to your beloved device."

They also might not be as good a value as they appear to be in the long run. "Most of the items aren't well made and die fast, meaning that you will be replacing them more often and erasing the savings," says Andrew Priobrazhenskiy, shopping and savings expert at Discount Reactor. "You'd be better served by investing in more durable products from well-known electronics vendors, even if it may entail paying a premium price for the product upfront."


Toddler looking at toy shelves in a store

Planning on picking up a gift for a child during your Family Dollar shopping trip? Ramhold says you might be better off buying it elsewhere.

"The toy selection at Family Dollar tends to be a mix of name-brand toys that don't have the best prices and brands that most people probably haven't heard of," she explains.

Because of that, you run the risk of the items breaking almost immediately or overspending on name-brand toys—and getting far less bang for your buck compared to shopping at big-box stores like Target or Walmart.

"Skip the toy aisle at Family Dollar and shop somewhere else where you can be confident in the products, prices, and selection," she says.

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Cleaning products

Bucket full of cleaning products on wooden floor

Many consumers pick up their cleaning essentials from Family Dollar assuming they're getting a decent deal. Unfortunately, experts say this often isn't the case.

"Cleaning products aren't always the lowest price at dollar stores," says Bodge. "In fact, I have found that the best deal on cleaning products is at wholesale clubs. The one caveat is if you only need a small amount, then Family Dollar is fine as long as it's a brand name."

If you're stocking up on products due to a sale or bulk deal, she also suggests choosing powder cleaners over liquid products because "liquid has a shorter shelf life."


Beauty products and autumn leaves on beige background

Savvy shoppers know that dollar stores can be excellent places to find solid deals on high-quality cosmetics. However, experts caution you should do a little research before grabbing any of those items during your next trip.

"While you might find some big brands at Family Dollar, a lot of the selection is going to be made up of LA Colors," says Ramhold. "There might not be anything wrong with the brand inherently, but you find much better drugstore makeup by shopping elsewhere. You'll get a better selection, better prices, and potentially fresher makeup depending on what the turnover rate is at your local store."

She suggests looking at stores such as Target, Walmart, and Colourpop for truly affordable makeup in a variety of kinds and colors.


littel girl in a purple witches costume

Dressing up for Halloween can be pricey if you're purchasing rather than making your costume. Still, you should avoid the temptation to get your supplies from the bargain retailer.

"While Family Dollar will be brimming with costumes every season, they will likely be of very poor quality," cautions Bodge. "Small accessories, like hats, glasses, crowns, or gloves are fine, but you don't want to be itching all night from the fabric of your dollar store costume."

RELATED: 5 Secrets Aldi Doesn't Want You to Know.

Off-brand food items

The cereal aisle in a Family Dollar store
Billy F Blume Jr/Shutterstock

Family Dollar stocks everything from snacks to frozen items on its shelves, so you might be tempted to see it as an alternative to your local grocery store. But experts warn that you may not find the quality you're looking for.

"Just because something is inexpensive doesn't mean it's a good buy!" says Bodge. "Look at ingredient lists carefully, and don't buy anything that looks like it's been sitting on a shelf for ages."

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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