It must have been about 15 years ago that I noticed that dollar stores were popping up like mushrooms. All of a sudden it seemed that every shopping center had a Dollar Mart, a Dollar Place, a Dollar Barn or some such variationof the name. This was in addition to the 99 cent stores. On a trip to Los Angeles, I noticed 98 cent stores and even a 97 cent store. Nothing like a competitive edge. I always liked to shop at these places for little things like notepads, socks , scissors , pens, aluminum trays etc. For items like this, there was no point in paying extra for “quality”. I guess a lot of people thought the same way because the stores grew in popularity by leaps and bounds.
One of the charms of the dollar store was that you never knew what you were going to find . Most of the items were picked up at distress sales or as remainders and many were made in China, India the Philipinnes or even Indonesia. The stock was different from store to store and sometimes I found some very interesting items. I usually never bought food items there except that once I picked up a large bottle of French’s Chili-O Mix for a $1.49. A real bargain since it is a very good mix. Some people even would load up shopping carts at such stores.
About 5 or 6 years ago, dollar stores suddenly seemed to go out of fashion. People began to look down their noses at shopping at such stores . There was even a New York Lottery ad featuring a jingle that said that if you won the big prize, you would not have to shop at a dollar story ever again.
Now , with the recession, things have changed back again. Frugality is in and one way to practice thrift is to buy at the dollar store. Even as big department stores feel the pinch, the dollar stores appear to be thriving. Of course now, not all the stock is priced at a dollar. More and more of the items are priced at a $ 1.20 , @1.49 or even $1.99. Just another sign of how far the dollar has fallen.