Today’s economy has created a new way of shopping for discount items that are priced at a bragged 99 cents or a dollar. Commonly referred to as the 99 cent store or the dollar store, these places are now a regular stop on the way to do your grocery buying as their prices and special deals are hard to beat. Customers dressed in expensive Levis and driving high class SUV’s are now seen parking at these discount stores, indicating the level of crisis our economy is experiencing as we all try to stretch the almighty dollar to buy whatever we need to get by. Known best for carrying the most essential items for a cheap price, these stores stock their shelves with products that range from toothpaste to small office supplies.
So what changed in our society that now demands we visit such a previously professed lower class store held in reserve only for the poor and penniless? It is obvious two things have changed in our society. The first being the social acceptances of such a store for both the poor and the middle class have bonded with the need to save their money. The second is the fact now known that these products are of supposed or assumption they are equal or identical in quality compared to those sold in the larger department stores at a much higher price.
One must ask what all can you buy inside one of these variety stores that advertise their products at 99 cents and how good is the service. Surprisingly, the stocking of the shelves are most adequate for unlimited supply of goods unlike some of the larger stores that limit their items to avoid restocking frequently and selling more of their desired products rather than the meaningful personal items e.g. hygiene, school paper folders, picture frames etc. that are stocked quiet well thus offering a great selection and choice.
There is a significant difference between the 99 cent store and the dollar store as many experience once inside the door. On a regular basis, the 99 cent store carries most of their items at the advertised price of 99 cents. On the other hand, the dollar store carries very few items for one dollar and stocks their stores with items that are higher than the advertised dollar but still cheaper than the price inside a franchised department store such as we are used to go to called supercenters. In other words, these products are sold at discount prices daily.
Comparing the two franchises, the customer must accept three things about these bargain stores. They must acknowledge that most of the products are not brand names and generic in nature. They are most likely manufactured on foreign soil by foreign workers and probably not subject to some of the same stringent quality control methods demonstrated with recalls and merchandise exchanges without a hassle or controversy and imported by what is likely an unauthorized distributor. Last and most certainly equally important, many of these products, with the exception of the fresh fruit and produce department are retailed at other stores and when they expire or meet their brands are either discontinued or no longer produced, they are sold to these discount stores for liquidation. Included in these products are items sold at closeout and bought at below retail from other stores.
So visiting the stores can bring you bagsful of goodies at a very low price but with the disclaimer that whatever you bought, is on an “as is” basis and difficult to return. Some are cash only and others don’t accept the debit or credit cards although many of these stores are now electronically connected to assist you in your purchases but without the traditional cash back feature on the debit card.
The advertisement of the “dollar store” is a gimmick to get you to walk in and check out their store. There are no guarantees that all items are priced a dollar and you will be lucky to find a few at that price. In this area, the 99 cent store has the dollar store beat as it stocks more items at 99 cents than the dollar discount stores do thus meeting your expectations to find cheaper items under a dollar.
So the next time you shop these “discount” stores for bargains and want to spend less than you would at the other supercenters, you get what you paid for, a cheap product that requires you to check the labels for expiration dates, freshness of the candy or edible goods bought and the condition of the product to make sure it works or is not broken.