Tuesday, February 07, 2017
I'd seen this store all around Chicago but never really paid much attention to it. There are lots of other variety stores out there with "dollar" in the name, such as Family Dollar (owned by the same parent company), Dollar General, and K Dollar. These stores sell items at discount prices, but for more than just a buck (ostensibly, the names are derived from the fact that all prices are rounded to the nearest whole dollar, avoiding the $.99 trap most often used in pricing). I figured Dollar Tree was just another one of these stores.
Au contraire mon frère.
Walking through those doors is like having a religious experience. I don't know if I can explain it completely, but perhaps it's simply knowing that every single item costs $1 at most. I could buy an entire aisle's worth of stuff and still be able to justify spending the money because, hey - it was only a dollar! It's the same feeling of power I get when all my laundry is clean or when I have a full tank of gas. It's an "anything is possible" feeling. It's powerful.
Back in 1982 or so, the new indoor mall opened back home when I was a teen. It included a store called 99 Cents Only. And for a teen on a budget, that's nirvana. But I soon learned the "you get what you pay for" lesson because everything in that store was cheap (in more ways than one) and lacked any kind of quality. It was mostly junky stuff, left over from the old 5 And Dime days.
But Dollar Tree is different. The quality of its merchandise is better; it's not primo by any means, but it's better than what I have seen in other discount variety stores. And it is the variety that keeps me intrigued. I see the exact same items in Dollar Tree that I see in other stores, including my grocery store of choice, Mariano's. For example, I can buy a bar of Yardley Oatmeal soap at Mariano's for $3.99, or I can buy it at Dollar Tree for $1. I can buy crepe paper streamers at Target for $1.99 or I can buy them at Dollar Tree for $1. I found $1 cereal bowls in Dollar Tree that exactly match the dishes we already had from Pottery Barn (and you can bet the PB dishses didn't cost $1 each!).
There are two Dollar Tree stores within walking distance from our house and I find I go to them regularly, not to buy items per se, although I always do) but to at least familiarize myself with what they have so I know where to go to buy them.
In short, I'm a huge fan - huuuuuge.