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Top 10 Surprising Facts About Dollar Stores

Top 10 Surprising Facts About Dollar Stores
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These facts about dollar stores will shock you! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we'll be counting down our picks for the most surprising or good-to-be-reminded-about pieces of information about dollar stores. Our countdown of surprising facts about dollar stores includes Location Is a Big Deal, There's a Lot of Competition, You Can Find Name Brands, and more!

Top 10 Surprising Facts About Dollar Stores


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the most surprising or good-to-be-reminded-about pieces of information about dollar stores.

#10: Not Everything Is a Dollar

Our first fact may feel like the most obvious, but yeah: it isn’t always a guarantee that every item in a self-styled “dollar store” costs just a buck. There’s actually precedent for this, too, since dollar stores in Canada have been charging more than a dollar for numerous items for years now. Additionally, did you know that the Dollar General franchise isn’t technically a simple dollar store? It, and other chains like Family Dollar, typically offer products that start at a dollar and can move upwards. The buck doesn’t stop here, clearly.

#9: It All Started with the Five and Ten

Hey, do you know how Bryan Adams famously references picking up “his old six string” and a “five and dime” in his song, “Summer of ‘69?” These old-time affordable variety stores, sometimes also known as five and tens, were essentially the precursors for modern-day dollar stores that sell an incredible multitude of items. Affordable low-end nickel and dime stores that gained huge-popularity way back in the day would eventually see their business model evolve into the “dollar store” model that’s now omnipresent. The more you know!

#8: Free Shipping

Thrifty shoppers looking to save even more bucks should be excited to hear our next fact. Free shipping has been all the rage for years, with many consumers filling their online carts in order to reach that minimum price point. But what if that price point is already super low? It may seem too good to be true — and it’s not home shipping — but the Dollar Tree chain offers their customers the ability to order online, and have their order shipped for free to the local Dollar Tree store of their choice. This not only saves customers money, but could also cut down on time for busy families.

#7: Location Is a Big Deal

Dollar stores don’t always have such a positive effect on the local economies in which they’re located. It’s all similar to the ethical questions of giant chains like Wal-Mart, as many local mom and pop stores eventually get pushed out by the predominance of dollar chains. These dollar stores traditionally focus their market strategies in lower-income neighborhoods, to the point where some states like Alabama keep close eyes upon exactly how many can open within a given area. Additionally, the “food deserts” that can be exacerbated by dollar stores can result in families being forced to shop for processed mass-market foods at the dollar store, instead of shopping more healthily.

#6: Cleanliness Can Be an Issue

So, probably the last thing customers want to think about are rodents. Yet, that’s exactly the sort of unsettling subject that came to light about the Family Dollar chain when the state of Arkansas flagged one of their distribution centers for a rodent infestation. The grossness doesn’t stop there, either, as the Dollar General chain has also been dinged in the past for sanitation and safety practices. This has resulted in fines, as well as a black eye in terms of how the realm of dollar stores appear to the general public.

#5: There’s a Lot of Competition

There’s only so much consumer business to go around, as well as a lot of franchises all vying for a piece of the pie. From the aforementioned Dollar Tree and Dollar General, to Family Dollar and even Five Below, there’s a lot of competition going on for low prices. But dollar stores overall don’t only see things from a bottom line perspective, but also from a sociological one. Dollar stores essentially bet on the old adage, “times are hard,” and tailor their business models on that, even if shoppers at all income levels frequent dollar stores.

#4: Working at a Dollar Store Usually Doesn’t Pay Well

The phrase “minimum wage” doesn’t necessarily mean “living wage,” and nowhere is this more evident than in the work culture of a dollar store. Employees who work at these sorts of places tend to see wages on the low end of the spectrum, and get fewer (or no) benefits than the average retail worker. Additionally, these employees are often required to wear multiple hats, rather than specializing in just one job function. These harried, multitasking workers can, as a result, not be in a position to offer the best service or keep the shelves properly stocked.

#3: Dollar Stores Outnumber Wal-Marts

It seems almost inconceivable, given how we as consumers usually think about retail giants like Wal-Mart. It’s true, however: dollar stores combined (in the most expansive sense of the term) simply have them beat in terms of numbers of stores. This doesn’t mean that these dollar chains don’t struggle to compete with Wal-Mart in terms of pricing. However, when you combine them both, there are enough Dollar General and Dollar Tree stores to outnumber not only Wal-Mart, but other major value retailers, including Costco, Kroger…even CVS and Walgreens!

#2: You Can Find Name Brands

The inventory of many dollar stores can vary from location to location, so it pays to shop around at any in your area. The ever-shifting nature of the marketplace means wholesalers and supply chains sometimes provide name brand products to dollar stores in addition to the generic or unfamiliar labels one might find browsing the aisles. However, smart shoppers should pay attention to the labels on these products, since oftentimes it’s a smaller-sized option that’s being made available to dollar stores. As a result, the customer isn’t really saving as much as they might think, and might just be better off picking up that product somewhere else.

#1: Dollar Stores Aren’t Always the Best Value

This ties into our aforementioned discussion about well-known branded products and their occasionally quirky sizing. The smartest shoppers always keep tabs upon the unit prices of their favorite products, not only at their go-to store, but at other options around town. Big box stores, for example, can sometimes still end up coming out cheaper in the end versus the dollar store, simply because they offer name brand products at their full sizes for a unit price that’s a better value. Plus, nearly every retailer possesses a dedicated file maintenance team that’s dedicated to keeping tabs on shelf tags, signs and changing unit prices on a weekly basis. So, in other words: keep your eyes open for the best value!

Do you shop at dollar stores? Have you ever worked in one? Let us know your experience in the comments!
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