With all of the criticism that some people like to heap on dollar stores about everything being junk made in China or food products past their expiration dates, I suppose it was only natural that dollar store owners and people who work there would want to defend their stores. Here's a sampling of some of the comments I've received over the last few weeks from dollar store owners and associates.

A store owner observed that a lot of the things she gets in to sell are made in Canada or Mexico, as well as China. Some are also made in America. She goes on to say that most of it is merchandise that was put on closeout and has then become available to dollar stores. Many of the things that are made in China have Wal-mart tags on them. This writer makes a distinction between her store and Dollar Tree, so I'm assuming that this is an independently owned store.

A teacher who started working part-time at Dollar Tree when the economy tanked, said that the company has been a pleasure to work for, wrote a long list of all of the quality brand name products that Dollar Tree sells and says that she buys about a third of her own weekly grocery needs there. The store tends to turn over food products within days, so that items past expiration dates are rare. This writer also emphasized that, if you do get a defective product -- she referenced the sponge mop -- you can have it replaced or exchange it for something else as long as you have the receipt.

A Dollar General store manager in Pittsburgh wrote to defend the medications and vitamins they sell, saying that they are on a par with national brands with some even being made by national brands. All of their products are 100% guaranteed or your money back, receipt or not. The manager went on to say that, before starting with the company, he/she believed that the food products were older, almost out-of-date or just really bad generic brands. Afterward, he/she realized that just wasn't true; the store gets in fresh products nearly every day.

Dollar General sells Stroehmann's bread and the Dollar General brand, which is also made by Stroehmann's. The manager also says that he/she often prefers the store brand foods over the national brands. An example was the Dollar General brand of fudge striped shortbread cookies over the same kind of Keebler cookies.

Someone who has worked at a Dollar Tree at one point in her life said that some products are sent to dollar stores simply because of small mistakes in production. The store where she worked once received a shipment of pregnancy tests that would ordinarily sell for $20 at any other store. The only thing that was wrong with them was that, during the packing process, some of the boxes got glued shut and sent out empty. The store simply threw away the empty boxes and sold the others for a buck.

Sometimes, manufactures make too many of a certain product or the item is out-of-season, so they sell these things to dollar stores, rather than take the loss.

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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