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Dollar Tree is one of the few companies that would seem to be truly recession-proof — after all, it’s about the only place where you can get a full bag of stuff and still get change back from a $10 bill. Whether nouveau pauvre or born with a plastic spoon in their mouth, what 99 percenter doesn’t love a good bargain? And one thing you can say about Dollar Tree is that bargains do abound – and, in most cases, it’s also pretty easy to see just how much you’re going to be spending, since with most Dollar Trees, what you see is what you get in exchange for one green paper portrait of the Father of Our Country.

The trick with Dollar Tree, as with any budget shopper’s paradise, is knowing what items are actually worth that hard-earned dollar, and which ones are going to be disappointing at best and downright dangerous at worst.

There's some stuff at Dollar Tree that isn't even worth a buck

While Dollar Tree is widely known to be a great place to shop for household basics, party goods, and school supplies, there are certain items there that aren’t worth a dime, much less a dollar. One example would be its phone chargers, which just simply don’t work. You’d get the exact same results from setting your dollar on fire and then gently blowing the smoke in the general direction of your phone’s charging port as you would from plugging it into a Dollar Tree USB cable. In fact, just skip the electronics aisle altogether — as consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Most [dollar store] electronics that plug in are junk and don’t last long.” Woroch also advises avoiding Dollar Tree’s batteries as these may leak and cause damage.

Dollar Tree’s toys are also a no-go — not only are they incredibly flimsy and poorly made, but many of them are also full of potentially harmful chemicals. A 2015 report by the Campaign for Healthier Solutions (via Environmental Justice for All) revealed that over 30 percent of vinyl plastic (PVC) products tested were found to exceed the CPSC safety limit for phthalates found in children’s products. This potential danger, in addition to other potential hazards like posing a choking threat or being flammable, make Dollar Tree toys one item you should definitely avoid buying.

Dollar Tree's foods are hit and miss

Dollar Tree has actually got some surprisingly decent foods — not just packaged snack foods, but even frozen items like its famous $1 ribeyes and cheeseburgers are really not bad for the price. The My short writings blog raves over Dollar Tree tilapia, saying it “taste[s] awesome [with a] snow flaky texture [and] smooth rich savory taste.”

Other foods, however, are not so great – the instant coffee is even bad by instant coffee standards, the snack cakes are dry and disgusting, and there’s a canned beef stew that you’ll only enjoy if you’re a grizzled old military vet nostalgic over chow hall food circa the Spanish-American War. And don’t even bring up Dollar Tree “cheese”, since that subject is just too terrifying. This mystery substance is practically indestructible, and will probably be keeping post-apocalyptic cockroaches alive as the only foodstuff to survive a total nuclear holocaust (and even then, it probably still won’t melt).

Dollar Tree sells booze? Not exactly

In early 2019, media sources including Food Business News ran headlines seemingly trumpeting the exciting news that Dollar Tree would begin carrying booze! That may have lead some to wonder, just what kind of booze would it be? Would they somehow manage to come up with a One-Buck Chuck? Most likely they’d resort to selling single-serve sizes, since a single beer for a buck wouldn’t exactly bankrupt them.

Sadly, the fine print told a different story. It seems that the booze sales would be at Family Dollar stores which are owned by Dollar Tree but, as anyone who’s ever shopped there knows, are more like “dollars stores” (emphasis on the plural) since most items are priced well over $1. A look at Family Dollar’s website reveals that both beer and wine are sold in multi-serving sizes. Needless to say, their offerings tend toward domestic macrobrews and the most basic of budget-priced wines. But then again, if you wanted boutique labels, you probably wouldn’t be giving any consideration to dollar store booze in the first place.

The "Plus" in Dollar Tree Plus is more like a minus

A 2019 press release published in Business Wire announced that Dollar Tree was “excited to kick off the initial introduction of Dollar Tree Plus!” Well, the excitement was all theirs and that of their shareholders, since all of those “Plus” items were to be multi-price point products” — in other words, stuff that costs more than $1. Which pretty much negates the whole purpose of going to Dollar Tree. Same old stuff, new higher prices? Umm, no thanks, might as well just be shopping at Walmart, in that case. 

The Dollar Tree Plus! Products are still only in “select test stores”, but Dollar Tree customers are hoping this new model doesn’t take over. After all, you’d think that Dollar Tree would have learned its lesson from the acquisition of Family Dollar, a brand so under-performing that they’ve had to entice customers in with the lure of cheap booze.

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