By: Chrysa Smith

They say you get what you pay for.

For the most part, I agree with that philosophy.  Inevitably, when there’s a selection of products within a range, it seems wise to go with the mid to higher group if you want to keep the item longer than your dinner napkin.  I think experienced shoppers know this very well.

So why is it that the Dollar Store is always so darn enticing? I know if I step inside, I’ll bring home a bag of junk—junk that I don’t need. Junk that will probably break with one or two uses. Junk that eventually, I won’t want. Yet every so often, I stop in.

And I have to ask, have you really traveled the aisles  well and looked beyond the party goods and baskets? For those of us with too much time on our hands, it’s absolutely eye-opening. Would you buy a combo package of crackers and tuna from the dollar store? The thought of it just creeps me out. I haven’t looked that closely at the label, but in my mind, I know it’s either expired or a reject of some kind. It’s gotta be from the rivers where people wash their clothes or cattle.  I mean, how can you offer seafood and crackers together for a buck? There’s just gotta be something wrong.

Down the next aisle, I stumbled upon feminine products. Sanitary pads? Tampons? no problem. Birth control foam—whoa! Somebody get the condom and quick! (And not the package across the aisle in the $1 store). Would you rely on a pharmaceutical-ly produced spermicide for a buck? After all, for a buck, there’s just gotta be something wrong.

Across the back wall are all of the cleaning products. Sorry again. I know I’m not ingesting these items (well, not intentionally anyway), yet I prefer my name brands and I prefer my labels in English. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to know what’s in them, and how to call the poison control center in case it splashes me in the face. I’d also like to know that should my eye pop out and I need to call a lawyer, I’d be reaching a bigger enterprise than Joe with his beakers and stirrers (think Breaking Bad). For a buck, it just can’t be as good.

So it’s a valuable lesson. It’s alright to spend a buck on paper goods, party goods, little tchotchkes. But when it comes to more important items, cheap = inferior. Let’s face it, we think a Mercedes is better than a Kia Soul. We know that fine, aged wines are probably better than the stuff you get in the jug. And certainly, I’d rather buy my family planning items at CVS or Walgreen’s (thank God, I’m past having to worry about that).

For some things, $1 just comes with way too much risk. I think I’ll save my singles in my pocket for a just a little while longer. At least until I pass a ‘Marshalls.’