I asked for reader feedback about things you've bought at a dollar store but wouldn't buy again, and you let me have it! What surprised me was that most of the comments were about positive shopping experiences. Everyone loves the paper products, greeting cards, wrapping paper and the like, and I heard again how awesome the cleaner Awesome really is.

Several of you rapped my knuckles for placing plates of hot food directly onto a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth. Ouch! In my defense, this was not the first vinyl tablecloth I've ever owned and I have never had the color fade and flake off of one the way it did on my dollar store find.

He Said, She Said
One thing I noticed throughout your comments was that there were conflicting reports about what was or wasn't a good buy. Someone lamented the poor quality of the kitchen utensils, while another praised the "built-up" cooking tools. I'm assuming that by "built-up," they mean the utensils with the thicker, rubberized handles. I like those best, as well.

One reader said that the nose-rests on the reading glasses they bought were slightly off, making them uncomfortable to wear, while two other posters liked the dollar store reading glasses and would buy them again.

There was a complaint about the pumps on the spray cleaners breaking down more quickly than those bought at a department store, but someone else disagreed, saying they hadn't noticed any difference.

There are conflicting opinions about over-the-counter medications but most of those who commented use and like them.

Particular stores where these items were bought weren't mentioned, so the only conclusion we can draw is that it depends on where you shop. It always pays to cast a critical eye on something before spending your buck.

Less Is Not More
One reader wondered if I had noticed that some plastic items like dishpans are smaller or thinner. I had indeed, because I bought one of those dishpans. It does the job but you have to give it a little extra support when moving one that's full of water. It's a tad bendy. The same writer complained that the cat litter sifters at Dollar General are now too flimsy and cautioned against the pet toys because of small pieces breaking off and becoming choking hazards. I think we can safely say that that problem is true of the plastic pet toys found in any dollar store.

Like everything else in retail, inflation makes for unwelcome changes. In order to keep selling things for a buck, retailers must either give you less of something or sacrifice the quality. Another example is the tea lights that used to come in packs of 20 for $1. Now your buck will get you a package of 16.

More Dollar General Duds
Check the ingredients in your toothpaste even if it's a brand name. Some of these contain harmful substances, and one reader says they found offending toothpaste at Dollar General.

The Cloverleaf brand of diced tomatoes were found to have little black specks in them from the inside of a can that wasn't coated.

Dollar General zip baggies had no bottoms in them. I've heard of joke drinking glasses before, but a bottomless baggie is no joke.

Dollar Tree Lemons

Apparently, the Dollar Tree water spray bottles either "leak like crazy" or don't spray at all.

Use caution with the candles in thin glass jars. One reader burned her fingers trying to move a lit one.

One reader was put off of this store's food because of infested cereal and rice. Yuck! Always check expiration dates.

Other Responses
Many of the comments I received didn't refer to any particular dollar store. Here's a list of some of the other dollar store products that people found wanting.

  • toilet bowl plungers that looked good but weren't sturdy
  • sponge mops that didn't hold together in water
  • tools made of soft metal that bent after only a few uses
  • no-name shampoo that was watered down
  • sandwich bags and 8 gal. garbage bags that are inferior (no reason given)
  • masking tape and painter's tape that apparently didn't measure up
  • didn't like the canned mushroom soup (perhaps a matter of taste)
  • shower liners, curtains & hooks
  • retractable dog leashes that don't work for long
  • some hanging battery-operated yard lights bought last summer that didn't work

I think I'll save the comments about dollar store clothing for another post. Let me know what you're experiences have been with clothing items, for any age group.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decorating using only items from the dollar store.

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