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14 Surprising Secrets About Dollar Stores & Fast Facts You Didn’t Know

Dollar Stores have become synonymous with the frugal idea of spending only a singular dollar for a host of household, beauty and food products that once were thought to be much more expensive at grocery stores and other big box retailers. One of the first to open was Dollar General in 1939, followed by Dollar Tree in 1986, Family Dollar in 1959 and Five Below in 2002. These stores are characterized for their ease and transparency of value, while also offering customers an affordable way to buy some of their favorite brands.

As the years march on, it’s become apparent how much the dollar store industry has changed and how it continues to evolve to bring forth savings and value to its customers.

Fast forward to now, there’s a lot about dollar stores that we do know, and there’s a vast amount of info that some people don’t know about the businesses.

If you want to know where your favorite $1 products have gone or why one chain of dollar stores is raising its price from $1 to $1.25, then check out these 15 facts about dollar stores.

dollar store facts and secrets, A Dollar Tree store is seen next to a Family Dollar store in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania on November 23, 2021. Dollar Tree announced that it will raise prices from $1.00 to $1.25 on most of its products by the first quarter of 2022. (Photo by Paul Weaver/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
A Dollar Tree store in Bloomsburg, Penn., on Nov. 23, 2021.
CREDIT: Sipa USA via AP

1. Dollar Tree items won’t be $1 anymore due to inflation.

The Dollar Tree was one of the only dollar stores that sold items for $1 for many years. But now, due to inflation, the store can no longer sell products for a dollar; prices have raised to $1.25. This is a productive decision that’s permanent and gives the company more In-demand options of products to bring back that once were inaccessible due to the profit margins being too thin. According to an FN report, “Dollar Tree plans to roll out the new prices across 2,000 Dollar Tree stores in December, with a goal of reaching all stores by the end of Q1 2022. The retailer first tested Dollar Tree Plus in stores in 2019, offering items priced at $1, $3 and $5.”

2. Dollar stores offer name brand products, but there’s a catch.

Dollar stores sometimes offer name brand products, often in a smaller size than what you’d buy at a grocery store. If you have an affinity for specific products, then the dollar store could be a good place for you to pick up your items at a lower cost. As inflation continues to climb, the product containers get smaller and smaller.

five below store facts, dollar store facts, Shoppers walk in front a Five Below store at Monroe Marketplace in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Weaver / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
Shoppers walk in front a Five Below store at Monroe Marketplace in Pennsylvania.
CREDIT: Sipa USA via AP

3. Five Below caters to women and children the most.

Five Below’s target demographic is women, children, teens and adolescents. In order to come up with their product range, they assess what items people from these categories are buying and they use that information to decide what to fill its stores with.

dollar store facts, FILE - This Aug. 19, 2014 photo shows the Family Dollar store in Ridgeland, Miss. Dollar Tree is closing up to 390 Family Dollar stores this year and rebranding about 200 others under the Dollar Tree name. The company closed 84 Family Dollar stores in the fourth quarter, 37 more than originally planned. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Family Dollar store in Ridgeland, Miss., on Aug. 19, 2014.
CREDIT: AP

4. Family Dollar is typically not regarded as a dollar store.

Family Dollar uses a price range of $1-10 for its products offered. The stores offer items like household cleaners, food, health and beauty aids, toys, apparel, home fashions and more that are all on a sliding price range. They sell name brands as well as their Family Dollar-branded items.

5. There are more dollar stores than Walmart and Kroger.

Dollar Tree and Dollar General have more stores combined than six of the nation’s largest retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Home Depot, CVS, Walgreens, according to Forbes. And if you combined the nation’s department stores, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Belk, they only equal 15% of dollar store footprints.

6. Most dollar store wages are low.

According to salary estimation sites like Glassdoor and Zip Recruiter, the average cashier at dollar stores makes between $9-11 and that equals to less than $18,000 a year. Store and assistant managers make between $46,000 and $48,000, while district managers make over $81,000 a year.

7. Dollar stores are growing in stature and location.

The 99 Cents Only store, based in California, is a chain that has over 390-stores. This is unusual as most chains are much smaller.

8. Dollar stores are not afraid to compete with big fish or little fish.

Dollar Tree, Dollar General and other retail chains have pushed mom and pop stores out of business due to presence and their supply chains, according to the New York Times. As shown, the stores have come at the expense of upmarket competitors and smaller stores.

9. Dollar General is not considered a true dollar store.

Although Dollar General has the word “dollar” in its title, it’s not actually a dollar store. A majority of the products that are sold within its retail chain stores are at prices that exceed $1. Products are typically sold at set prices on a sliding scale and the company continues to bolster its own DG brand.

10. The number of dollar stores is steadily growing.

In 2016, the number of brick and mortar dollar stores totaled 30,000. Back then, that was 25% higher than it was 5 years ago. In 2020, the number of dollar stores in the country totaled around 34,215.

11. Dollar stores are very profitable and generate great margins. 

In 2020, Dollar Tree and Dollar General made over $56 billion in revenue. To put that number into perspective, that’s three times what Macy’s made and not even half of what the grocery store giant Kroger made.

12. Not all dollar stores are franchises.

Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores do not allow franchise owners. Dollar General doesn’t allow franchises either, but will allow you to sell their products for a 5% commission as an affiliate, digitally.

13. You might not get the best deal at a dollar store.

According to a study done by Cheapism, how well of a deal a shopper gets depends on how closely they pay attention to the unit price of an item at a dollar store versus a store like Walmart. In some cases, the $1 or imminent $1.25 price tag gets you less value on the dollar than a leading grocery store or retailer.

14. Dollar stores tend to be more prominent in working class areas.

Dollar stores tend to infiltrate working class, blue collar areas and are predominately found in states like Ohio and Indiana, and find their way through the south to places like Kentucky, Tennessee and along the Gulf states. Due to their popularity, states like Alabama have blocked proposed dollar stores from opening within close proximity of each other.

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