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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Queen of Free's dollar store shopping advice

Sometimes, you can find a great deal on useful products at a dollar store, but you can also spend too much on junk items.

INDIANAPOLIS — Cherie Lowe, the Queen of Free, says she has a love-hate relationship with dollar stores and the dollar section of big box retailers. 

Sometimes, you can find a great deal on useful products at a dollar store, but you can also spend too much on junk items.

Sunday on 13Sunrise, Cherie told Jalea Brooks how a savvy shopper can get the most out of a dollar store shopping trip.

First, go in with a list and make a budget, or just bring the cash you plan to spend so your eyes don't tempt you to overspend.

Pay attention to the unit price. Use your cell phone to compare prices and check comparable items on Amazon or regular retailers. They might have the same product for a better price.

If you know a birthday or wedding is coming up, you can save on gift wrap and cards at the dollar store. Look for multipacks of gift bags instead of just one. For graduation season, Cherie bought a pack of plain black bags and a multicolored package of tissue paper that made it easy to put together multiple gifts with paper that coordinated each graduate’s school colors. Mylar balloons are another good purchase to make at a dollar store.

Speaking of school, stock up throughout the year on school supply sales rather than purchasing items for a dollar. Crayons, pencils, notebooks, and more often priced at $0.25 or even less on sale at big box retailers. 

Mylar balloons there can save you a bundle when the same or similar items cost three to five times more at a party store. 

Don’t get too carried away though. It’s easy to buy more when you feel like you’re getting a bargain. Stay on track by knowing how many you want to purchase before you go into the store.

Refillable plastic bottles and cleaning supplies are usually a good dollar store buy as long as you look at the unit price. But avoid personal care, health and beauty items. 

For more items to buy or avoid at dollar stores, watch Cherie's 13Sunrise segment in the video player or check out her online blog.