No matter where you live in the United States, there is a good chance that you have at least one dollar store in a close proximately to your home. In fact, you may have multiple dollar stores to choose from. As more consumers become concerned with saving money, dollar stores are rapidly increasing in popularity. Although dollar stores are a great way to save money, you need to proceed with caution. As a former dollar store assistant manger, I want to share a few important tips with you.
In recent months, the concern of dangerous and counterfeit products have been brought to light. This has caused many consumers to examine the ways in which they shop, as it should. Unfortunately, there have been multiple news reports of potentially dangerous or counterfeit items appearing in dollar stores. This is why it is important that you proceed with caution. Of course, this shouldn’t just ring true for dollar stores. No matter where you shop, you should always be aware of your surroundings and what you are buying.
Before putting any item inside your cart, especially medications or other health and beauty products, you will want to thoroughly examine each product in question. Be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. Misspellings or unfamiliar labels on familiar products are a sign that you may want to turn away.
Although it is advised that you be cautious of products with weird or misspelled labels, it is also important to mention that mistakes do happen with product labels and product packages. Dollar stores do legitimately purchase these items from some other retailers or product manufacturers. When in doubt, you may want to speak to management. Most dollar store managers know where their products came from or they can connect you with someone who can give you reassurance.
When shopping at dollar stores, including dollar food stores, it is advised that you examine all expiration dates or best by dates. These may be of great importance to you. Although rare, it is possible to find products five years or more older, especially in smaller dollar stores. Unfortunately, it is common to find outdated food in many dollar stores, especially those that tend to be locally owned and operated. Of course, the decision to purchase old or outdated food is your decision to make, but it is still advised that you examine all expiration dates on food, as well as all medications.
In keeping with checking the expiration dates on food, it is also advised that you examine the box in which the food came in. This isn’t always easy in many dollar stores, as many do what is referred to as case cutting. Case cutting is when the tops, the fronts, and a portion of the sides of boxes are cut; therefore, the products inside can be seen. Case cutting is used by some retailers, as it can save them a considerable amount of time and money.
When shopping, it is important that you keep case cutting in mind. You may want to be cautious of any “fancy,” case cutting jobs though. There are some unscrupulous retailers out there who have been known to physically remove the expiration dates from the boxes in question, through case cutting. Be cautious of these cutting jobs or boxes that have certain information blacked out, as they may be a sign of an old or outdated product.
If your local dollar store has a frozen food section, it is also advised that you proceed with caution. Two common goals of retailers are to make and save as much money as possible. While you may not see a connection between this and frozen foods, you should. The next time you are in your local dollar store, examine the store’s stocking habits, namely for frozen foods.
Frozen food is able to last well past the expiration date, but it is important to keep bacteria in mind. If not properly frozen, bacteria can develop inside the food. You will want to make sure that you are purchasing frozen food from a dollar store or a dollar food store that is put away as soon as possible. Frozen food should be put away by a designated stocker, not by a cashier who is performing other tasks. The amount of time it takes for your dollar store to put away their refrigerated or frozen foods may have a significant impact on the quality, as well as your health.
The above mentioned points are just a few of the many points that you will want to take into consideration the next time that you go dollar store shopping. On a personal note, it is important to remember that dollar stores come in a number of different formats. Dollar General and Family Dollar are not classified as dollar stores, as many of their products are priced higher than one dollar. I have, personally, never had any problems with Dollar Tree and I find them to be a quality dollar store. With all others, especially those that are locally owned and operated, you may want to proceed with caution.