Long Island’s Obsession with The Dollar Store

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Dollar Tree, North Massapequa (Photo source: Google Maps)

Long Island is loaded with dollar stores. You know the ones I’m talking about. Everything, and I mean everything in the store, is priced at a dollar.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a stigma attached to shopping at the dollar store. Many snobby people on Long Island, and we have our share of them, wouldn’t get caught dead shopping there. Why, are they afraid the store has cooties?

Are they so enamored with name recognition they wouldn’t purchase anything else? Granted, there are many items in the dollar store with simple names like “dish liquid” or “toothpaste”, but does that actually frighten people?

Sure, some items are a little “off” in their packaging. You can get a large, yellow-orange box of crayons with a sharpener built in, but the name on the box is “Crayons,” not “Crayola.” Do you think little Johnny is going to care?

Let’s be honest, there are number of things I would never buy in a dollar store. I wouldn’t buy anything perishable or with an expiration date. In a store filled with knock-offs and no-name name items, I’m not buying salmon or milk, even for a dollar. Also, I’d stay away from the batteries and any canned food. Shelf-life issues are the most likely reason these items are even in the dollar store in the first place.

Some of the name brand items available for a dollar are fascinating. Snacks like Pringles, Wise or Hershey are good deals for only a dollar. They also have plenty of drinks, including various flavors of Powerade, RC Cola and Arizona Iced Tea.

Cleaning supplies for your windows, counters or floors are only a buck apiece and I don’t know of any other place selling mops and brooms for a dollar. They have plastic cutlery, large red cups, paper plates, etc. I mean, come on, these are one-use, throw away items, right? I saw packages of pens, markers and pencils for a buck each. I don’t even want to calculate how many pens I’ve lost in my lifetime.

You don’t have to buy the sugar named “Sweet-Mate;” they have Domino’s. Leary of the cereal that looks like “Apple Jacks”, but is called, “Apple Bits?” Grab a box of “Honey Bunches of Oats” from Post.

For leftovers, plastic containers can be a real-life saver. Besides, how many times have you been uneasy about sending party left overs home with Aunt Joan in your good tupperware? For a buck, Uncle Frank can eat like a king the next day.

After being horrified by the price of photo frames at places like Target and Michael’s, I went to the dollar store to see what they offered. Sure enough, they had all different sizes, shapes and configurations, all for a dollar. Guess what? They were rectangular, had glass panes and held pictures. What else do you want?

By the time I got to the register, I had filled my little hand-held basket without any concern for price, strolling down the aisles and grabbing what I wanted. While most stores save their impulse items for the racks closest to the registers, the dollar store is completely dedicated to impulse buys.

Like most shoppers there, I came in with a purpose, this time looking to get some replacement photo frames. But I emerged with a few things I probably didn’t need but couldn’t pass up for a buck. Is that wrong?

I was pleasantly surprised when the cashier rang everything up and my little basket full of items came to less than $20. I almost felt like I got away with something as I hurried to my car before someone might call me back in, telling me I owed more money.

On second thought, maybe I should go back in and try the salmon. After all, it’s only a buck.

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a award winning columnist and a contributor since 2016.

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