What to buy and avoid at dollar stores: Pop, paper, juice drinks, greeting cards, party supplies

You could call Marge Nordquist a professional dollar store shopper.

You'll often find her at a local "Deal$" store, one of the growing number of dollar stores popping up across the country. 

She says she saves a fortune shopping here.

"Yes I really do," she said. "It ranges from personal care items to food to things for my car, just about anything you can think of.  For a dollar!"

Nordquist saw my recent hidden camera report on some dollar store items that we found cheaper at Walmart, which was the reason she contacted me: She says you have to know what to buy at dollar stores.

So she shared her top 6 dollar-store deals.

1. Paper products

"There's toilet paper, napkins, tissues, paper towels," she said.

She says most house brand items are just $1.

2. Soda pop, especially second-tier brands like Shasta.

"A 2-liter bottle of cola or lemon-lime soda, for $1, is really wonderful, compared with major brands," she said.

3. Juice drinks

"Sunny Delight is great, I love it, and for $1 you can't beat it," she said.

 And bottled water.: she showed us a 6 pack of Nestle water for just $1.

4. Household cleaning products, such as floor cleaners, window cleaners, and dish soap.

5. Greeting cards: 50 cents to $1 is a bargain compared with drugstore chains, where you'll often pay $5 for a birthday card these days.

6. Party supplies like gift bags and helium balloons.... just $1 each.

I took her advice...grabbing some party goods and household item, even a pair of sunglasses, and got plenty of change back from my 20.

Some Things to Avoid

As our recent consumer investigation found, you may not find the best prices on name brand food, such as cookies and chips from popular brands like Nabisco.

We found Nabisco products, Coke products, and several other name brand items cheaper at Walmart than at some dollar stores we tested.

Consumer Reports Magazine also suggests avoiding dollar store vitamins, as you may now know where they come from and how old they are.

Finally, always check expiration dates on food at dollar stores.  Most do a good job keeping products fresh, but there is always a chance of buying outdated food.

That way you stay stay safe and you don't waste your money.

CLICK HERE for earlier report: Do dollar stores really save you money?

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