How does the Dollar Store do it?

There is a Dollar Store close to my residence of 20 years. It was in the same place when I moved here, and now, 20 years later, the store still sell things for $1, a lot of it the same stuff they sold 20 years ago. How can they manage that?

In that 20 years, a lot of prices at other stores have doubled. For example, the price of pet food has skyrocketed, and increases frequently. A can of Fancy Feast could once be purchased for 30 cents; now it’s at least 60-70 cents.

  • The same question applies to 99 cent and $1.01 stores. if they too have maintained their price. We only have Dollar Stores here.

My guess is that twenty years ago, that can of Fancy Feast cat food was six ounces (or whatever) and today it’s only four ounces (or whatever). In short the items are packaged so that they can be sold at retail for about a dollar.

Also, twenty years ago, we in the US were less dependent on Chinese-made goods. So perhaps twenty years ago that can of cat food was produced in the US but today it’s imported from China.

This article might help shed some light on the subject:

In a lot of cases they have shifted production of their product to continually cheaper places. China is relatively expensive now so things are moving to southeast asia or africa. The other option is shrinking profit margins though from what I’ve read Dollar General is one of the best retail chains of the last decade so. I remember reading that they are some of the few stores seeing retail volume increase but I don’t remember if they had a declining margin.

I had a roommate that wholesaled crap to gas stations and it was amazing what he could buy for a penny resell for 5 cents and then have sold for a dollar at the gas station. I’m sure the big dollar chains get better deals.

Are you kidding? Dollar stores are an outrage! When my parents were kids, the discount stores were called “five and dime” stores. That’s a 10x to 20x level of inflation.

The stuff there is made where labor and costs are cheap and the quality is shit. I was desperate and bought a light bulb at a dollar store. It literally lasted less than an hour before blowing.

That said, for gift bags and wrapping paper and stuff that will just get thrown away anyway, they are great.

A lot of price inflation over the previous decades has been in services, like education and health care. The price of manufactured goods hasn’t risen nearly as much, due to shifting to low cost production locations, better technology, and greater use of automation.

I think the OP’s point is that that can of cat food is selling for a higher price today than it was 5 years ago at retail outlets, but the dollar store is able to maintain the dollar retail price on that same can over that 5 year period.

I’ve gotten perfectly good light bulbs at the dollar store. (But I’ve learned to beware of cheap Christmas lights.)

I suspect this is a big part of the answer. The kinds of things you tend to see in the dollar store nowadays are the kinds of things that are cheap, and have remained cheap, to manufacture.

That said, there are a number of things that I used to see in dollar stores that aren’t there anymore. And there used to be lots of different dollar stores that have long since shut down; nowadays it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a genuine dollar store that wasn’t part of the Dollar Tree chain.

Some of the $1.00 crap at those stores is 88cents at Walmart. I never buy candy at the dollar tree, it’s a cheat. There are about 6 pieces of stale candy per bag. I bought a Sharpie pen once. Well, I thought it was a Sharpie. It actually said Shanghai on the pen. Mr.Wrekker got a big jolly telling everyone how I got Shanghai-ed buying a pen that never wrote.:slight_smile:

I’m always wary of buying anything consumable (including things like toothpaste) for humans or animals at a Dollar Store because they usually (even brand names) are manufactured in countries that may not have as strict quality requirements as the U.S. Also be aware of the expiration date on products. While the dates are almost always far on the side of caution and I believe in the U.S. it’s not legal to sell if the date is past, be sure to check before you buy.

The store could also be buying overstock or liquidation items from other stores, liquidators. In Hawaii we have (or had, not sure if it’s still there) a discount grocery store that has these types of products.

I had a friend from Taiwan (whose father owned a cell phone accessories factory) that they made different quality products, sold at different price levels and on the lowest quality/price phone chargers they would omit a part that would prevent overcharging. In addition, the biggest cost of manufacturing products with a plastic shell is making the injection molds. These molds have a finite life when they’ll produce quality fitted parts, but are then often sold at their end of life to other factories who continue to use them despite the parts not fitting together properly.

Finally, the store may be a front for other illegal activities including money laundering. Since it’s a bargain Dollar Store, paying in small bills is not unusual. The store “re-buys” the goods less a percentage cut and restocks their shelves.

Dollar stores are notorious for being on the leading edge of driving down wages.

Pet food is a commodity. Even the poorest people will spend some of what they have to ensure their pets don’t starve. Cats are picky eaters and owners will pay an inflated premium to get kitty’s favorite.

Years ago, I started feeding a stray cat. Since he was a stray, I bought the cheapest generic dry cat food. Once I decided to give him a treat and bought a name brand. He turned his nose up at it and would only eat the generic brands. Another time, I was too lazy to buy more food and gave him canned tuna for a few days. I assumed would enjoy this ‘treat’, but immediately bought more of his generic food after I saw a half-eaten bird!

I suspect that the quality of what is sold has declined. I notice that dollar stores only sell cheap stuff nowadays. I wouldn’t waste my dollar.

There’s a discount store called Five Below at the Springfield Shopping Center in Springfield, Virginia (near the Franconia-Springfield Metrorail. Everything is $5.00 or less. I imagine that’ll be the future of the dollar store - the five dollar store, then the ten dollar store, and so on up.

This made me laugh till I peed my pants! :smiley:

Perfectly legal for almost everything from what I’ve read; most of them are “best by” dates, and the ones that aren’t, carry no legal weight, except for baby formula, whose dates do carry legal weight.
One thing to keep in mind is that retail price rarely has much to do with cost, other than cost being a sort of floor below which you don’t want to set your price.

My guess is that margins are smaller than they were, but still fairly large overall for most dollar stores.

the chains and biglots changed how the dollar store model works its not entirely discontinued/out of season/bought at auctions stuff anymore
dollar tree/family dollar aka “Greenbriar international” makes 90 percent of its own stuff to the point they license name brands to put on their manufactured stuff which big lots was the first to do

also the name brands are starting to make specific sized items for them like at dollar tree I can get a envelope of betty crocker brownies that only make 6 to a pan 8 oz boxes of kelloggs ect
they tried selling a bottle of coke that was 10 ounces instead of 20 but too many people caught on and complained

US dollar stores ain’t got nothing on Japanese 100-yen stores.

They do buy up discontinued items in bulk. If something wholesales for $2 normally, they will buy a carload of it for $0.50 each. The manufactures figures any money is better than nothing and sells it to them.

I actually like Five Below. Things like Marvel and Star Wars toys sell at bigger retailers for full price. Then after a few months on clearance they move to Five Below. My daughter buys Barbies and Monster High dolls.