Shopping, Style and Beauty

Things You Weren’t Expecting to Find at the Dollar Store

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We need to talk about the dollar store. I remember hating trips to the dollar store when I was but a wee child dragged along by Grandma to shop for knockoff perfume and to socialize with the residents of her small town. But now I realize that Grandma knew what was up. Long mocked for not actually charging a dollar for most of its items (let up, people, we’re in a recession), the dollar store is where you’ll find all the things you never knew you needed — and a few things you knew you needed but did not expect to find there:

Jesus Night Lights

When you’re not convinced the Lord is keeping your soul when you lay yourself down to sleep, with the Jesus night light — or, just a foot or two away, a Holy Mother candle, a Buddha statue, or a tiny lightbulb with lips and hearts on it — you can rest safe in the knowledge that your supreme being of choice is shedding his or her dim light on your bedroom and preventing stubbed toes in the middle of the night. Let it never be said that the dollar store discriminates on the basis of religion.

Glue Gun

Not exactly pricey to begin with, glue guns are usually sought after in arts and crafts supply stores. I feel like a dope settling for a mini glue gun at full price when I could have bought a full-size one for a mini price at a Dollar General. Also on offer are all kinds of hardware. Grab a tupperware (they sell those, too, of course), and fill your new toolbox for less than $10.

Lace Thongs

Along with bras, socks, and granny panties, you’ll find dainty lace underthings to cover your squishy bits for a sexy night in or out. Forget paying $10-15 for a pair of saucy panties at Victoria’s Secret; all you need is one bone to cause quite a few more. You might want to save these, though, for when you don’t want the Lord Jesus to see your every move.


Hoooooo girl, you know we got combs. What you didn’t know was how many you could buy at once. Need eight combs? Twenty combs? Combs covered in pictures of every Disney princess? It doesn’t matter how many or how few you buy; you’ll pay about a dollar. While you’re there, stock up on industrial-sized bottles of hair spray and shampoo, bulk ponytail holders, bobby pins, brushes, claw clips, and headbands. When shit’s this cheap, there’s no excuse to go out with your hair not did.

Hexagonal Graters

This grater has everything: microplane grating, mandoline slicing, sunburned drifters with soap sud beards… You might envision such a contraption at the Bed Bath & Beyond, not at the Dollar Tree. But this mega-grater is not the limit: You can stock your entire kitchen with “stirring spoons” (what else does one do with spoons?), colanders, timers, and glasses (made with real glass!) for a Jackson or so. I said previously that Chinatown was the best place to get your kitchen gadgets. Not every town has its own little China, but even Podunk, Illohiossouriana, has some incarnation of the dollar store.

Mardi Gras Masks

Planning a birthday celebration? A wedding? Any event for which you’d need noisemakers, “funny glasses,” beads, feather-garnished masks, or plastic tiaras? Head to the Family Dollar, and get ready to PARTAY. The party factor does, however, bring up one of the few shortcomings of dollar stores: They generally do not carry booze. Oh, dollar store: You’re almost perfect, but not quite.

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Sarah M. Smart - Red-Light Special

Sarah M. Smart - Red-Light Special

Sarah M. Smart was summoned into being on a distant ice cream planet
through an unholy union of Two-Buck Chuck and unicorns. They sent her to Indianapolis and then the University of Missouri's School of Journalism
to spread peace and big hair. Perpetually in mourning for the comma, she
has worked for a variety of print media, including Indianapolis
, Global Journalist, and Vox. Since moving
to San Francisco for the booming dumpster-diving scene, she has been an
online operative for such fine folks as , Neo-Factory, and
Academy of Art University. After a day of cat-feeding, hat-making,
dog-walking, vegan baking, and daydreaming about marrying rich, all she
wants is a margarita as big as her face.