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You can always tell when someone is writing about dollar stores who has never actually been to a dollar store.
They tend to lump anything with “dollar” in its name together. And not only do they assume they’re all the same, they usually assume that if that word is in the name, then they must sell everything for a dollar.
But experienced shoppers know better. Only the Dollar Tree qualifies as a true “dollar store” in the strictest sense of the word — everything they sell really is $1 or less.
Others, like Family Dollar and Dollar General, just sell things for, well, dollars.
But this week, the unadulterated Dollar Tree decided to join forces with one of the less pure dollar stores, Family Dollar. And, I can’t help but be super excited about it. The Dollar Tree bought Family Dollar for about $8.5 billion, or about 8.5 billion items from one of their stores, minus tax.
I’m secretly hoping that this means Family Dollar will start selling everything for $1 or less, but I know that’s probably not going to happen. A more likely outcome though, and just as exciting, is that some of the special $1 items from Dollar Tree will find their way into Family Dollars.
You see, Dollar Tree stores seem to have a special relationship with manufacturers. They carry items you can’t seem to find anywhere else, created in special sizes made to sell for exactly $1 — everything from mini-Secret deodorants, to small bags of Bugles, to multi-packs of Extra gum.
For those on a budget, it is seriously amazing what you can find for a $1 at that store — and if you’re not afraid of generics, there’s a whole wonderful world of cleaning supplies you need to check out ASAP.
And, anyone who’s ever only had $10 to last until Friday knows what a difference it can make to buy a small stick of deodorant for $1, versus a regular size stick for $2.50 at a big box store. In times like that, the Dollar Tree can be a godsend
All this doesn’t mean that Family Dollar doesn’t have some wonderful qualities as well — qualities I’m hoping will work their way into the Dollar Tree stores.
Personally, I live in a small town, and the closest Wal-Mart is literally a solid 45 minutes away. Thankfully, there’s a Family Dollar a few blocks from my house. While the prices tend to be a little higher than a big box retailer, and the store is obviously much, much smaller, it does serve a special place in the market — right between small-town grocer and far-away big box store.
My family and I have bought everything from shampoo to laundry detergent and flip flops at our local Family Dollar — all things that are either hard to find or extremely expensive at the local grocery store.
So, if Family Dollar and Dollar Tree joining forces means they’ll have the power to open more stores in small markets like my town, then I’m all for this merger.
Of course, as with all unknown situations, there is one worst-case scenario that any true Dollar Tree fan is already likely worried about — will the Dollar Tree stores start to carry items over $1, specifically items from their Family Dollar counterparts?
If that happens, Dollar Trees stores will quickly lose most of their magic. I just hope that the owners are smart enough not to mess with the enchanted dollar that made them so famous in the first place.