SOWELL: Do it on a dime | Opinion

I truly enjoy a good deal. Whenever I find something for a discounted price, a rush of excitement comes over me. All my friends know I am a bargain hunting queen and I am really proud to know where to find the best deals.

I am going to share with you my list of Holy Grails and what each has to offer as a discount store and some other bonus tips and tricks on how to save for any project. One main thing to remember when bargain hunting is that objects always have more to them than meets the eye. Think multipurpose for items and see them for what they could be with a good coat of spray paint or some do-it-yourself initiative.

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1. Dollar Tree: This had to be first on my list because it is a hidden gem. I used to think of this as a quick place to pick up last minute party supplies or a card for an occasion, but as I have grown older I now know that the price of home decor is high and finding a good deal on something is a success. Whenever you walk into any Dollar Tree, everything is categorized by aisle. The party supplies have an aisle, the office supplies, toys, seasonal and kitchenware etc. have their own aisles. The thing about Dollar Tree is, you have to be willing to be open-minded and realize that while it is organized, digging for certain items or seeing alternate uses for items is a must. For example, Dollar Tree sells individual succulents seasonally in a variety of styles and colors along with bags of fake moss and toy dinosaurs. A DIY for these items would be for you to cut a hole in the middle section of the back of the dinosaur, spray paint it the color of your choice, fill it with fake moss and then add a succulent to make a cute and quirky dinosaur succulent planter. The possibilities are really endless when you see things as multi-purpose items. The seasonal section is great for all holidays as cute decor and smaller items to use for trick-or-treaters or stocking stuffers line the shelves. The book section also has some good finds and the children’s section has a variety of workbooks along with coloring books. Watching YouTube is also a great help for Dollar Tree specific DIY’s and even more tips for getting more for your money.

2. Dirt Cheap: This is a place I just recently discovered after hearing about it from a friend. The closest location out of the several available is Ennis and trust me, the drive is worth it. The name explains it all, brand-named products for dirt cheap. Big box stores such as Target, Walmart, Ross and Home Goods send their overstock or unsold seasonal items to dirt cheap where they are marked down drastically. I bought my son several shirts from the Target brand, Cat & Jack, which usually retail for at least $15 for a $1.50 and the deals don’t stop there. Several brand name clothing and shoe options are in stock, along with seasonal decor as well. Home decor is where the real challenge is as the items are all strewn about one side of the store, but to me the digging for a bargain is part of the fun. All kinds of home decor and furniture can be found and most of what you find is in great shape and still in its original packaging. Another good buy from Dirt Cheap is toilet paper and paper towels. As weird as this may seem, these things can be pricey at the grocery store and a large bundle of 36 rolls of Charmin at Dirt Cheap can sell for as low as $10.

3. Daiso: This is a Japanese version of the traditional Dollar Tree, except that items range all the way from $1 up to $10 and a wider variety of higher quality items are available. The store has so much to offer including organizational items, makeup, seasonal decor, glassware sets, kitchen items and much more. A wide variety of Japanese candy and Poke are available as well as drinks and traditional serving ware. This store is great for office supplies too. Every single item is made to be functional and extremely cute. It has a kawaii (this is a term for cute in Japanese) touch to most of the items and the seasonal selection is no different. Halloween decorations are currently the first thing you see when you walk in, including pumpkin sparkly garlands, trick or treat buckets and light up ghosts. I have shown so many people this shop and every single one of them is now hooked on Daiso. In the jewelry selection it carries multiple items along with hair accessories and is a great way to find cheap products in bulk or enjoy a simple statement pair of earrings. The store also carries a variety of pet products and gardening options.

4. Target Dollar Spot: Target is one of my favorite stores to shop in, but after their recent remodel, the prices have gone up, especially on home decor pieces. The Dollar Spot at Target is a wide variety of seasonal and random items ranging from $1 to $5. The items correlate to all holidays and even back-to-school time as well as football season. You can find adorable home decorations in this section and the deals are always great. Glass pieces, serving trays, placemats, banners, organizational items and more can be found in the section along with items for crafting as well, such as stickers, glitter and decorative paper. Another fun item this section usually carries are socks and they come in all sizes and designs. My son enjoys the quirky designs and for a dollar, I usually pick up a few pairs for myself. A tip to remember when shopping at these sections, especially in larger Targets, is that sometimes the store will have a Dollar Spot at each of its entrances, so if you see something is out of stock at one Dollar Spot or if you want a duplicate but cannot find one do not forget to check the other entry spot to see if they have the item you are looking for. This is also a great place for stocking stuffers for Christmas as well as Easter basket goodies.

Bonus finds: Dollar General is on the bonus list for a few reasons. While yes, some of their items are more expensive than other big box retailers, some are a great buy. The home decor inside of the Dollar General is great and if you look around the entirety of the store, you can find nice items for pretty cheap. Makeup is also a great buy there and they carry brand names such as Wet n’ Wild for inexpensive prices. Picture frames are a great steal here along with crafting supplies. Family Dollar also carries a variety of items including cute dresses, home decor and jewelry. Most of the time at the end of the seasons the stores will have huge clearance sales on all of their unsold items and you can find many pieces for decorating, wrapping paper, pool toys and much more for a great deal. Big Lots is another area for great bargain shopping. The store has lots of wall art for great deals and a clearance section that is almost always stocked full. The items shown in the seasonal section go on sale after a few months of being on the shelves and are marked to almost 70 percent off in the clearance section. They also have modern decor pieces such as fake succulents and decorative pillows for a great price. The tip here is to look at the end caps of the aisles and make sure no items there are marked down to clearance prices as well because sometimes it can be a hunt to find these items. The final bargain is the 99 cent store. I just recently visited one of these for the first time a few weeks ago and I was in shock. I wondered why it had taken me so long to go inside of one. I was under the impression the store sold mostly food but I was sadly mistaken. The store has amazing deals on decor and dishware along with gift supplies and all sorts of home products. The inside is huge and exceeded my expectations. I will for sure be returning to the 99 cent store along with my other favorite spots as well. Getting something for a great buy is rewarding and I encourage everyone to do it on a dime.


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