For a new year, a new addiction

Dollar stores offer a unique shopping experience

Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo

I have a new addiction — and this is a good one.

I am obsessed with, cannot get enough of, the dollar stores. I absolutely love browsing their aisles, checking out new and exciting items I had not seen before and always asking myself that ubiquitous question when dollar stores are the topic, “How do they make a profit?”

It all started about two years ago when I was shopping at Publix in The Landings. I happened to look up and see a store called the Dollar Tree. My curiosity was piqued. What could this be?, I asked myself. How long has it been here and what do they sell? That is when I found Nirvana.

Upon entering the store, you are assailed by huge signs along the walls and the aisles, reminding you that “Everything is $1.00!” And still, people continue to ask, “Is this shampoo $1? How about these dish towels? Kitchen gadgets?” On and on it goes, because we are all amazed at the excellent prices and deals we are getting.

I counted 11 aisles plus the walls in that store, completely stocked with everything for the house and the family, except for the house itself. The Dollar Tree is a mini Publix and it is right next door to the grocery store!

I deliberately ignore many items on display when I shop in dollar stores because I like to be surprised during future shopping trips. Was that a large box of detergent? My favorite shampoo? Measuring cups? A six-pack of water? The fun never ends.

I still have to laugh when I hear new customers ask the staff if such-and-such is really a dollar. Patience, people, patience: Just keep answering the same question with a smile.

It is amazing how efficient the staff is when changing over the merchandise from one holiday or season to the next. As I browsed a store one recent day, I saw employees putting up signs saying that most holiday items were 50% off. What? You mean I can buy a huge roll of wrapping paper for only 50 cents? That is even less than a dollar.

I remember in the “old days” — a few years ago — when people of a certain means who drove large SUVs and sports cars would be embarrassed to be seen inside any place called the Dollar Tree. And now, they cannot stop bragging about the bargains.

I am already making my list for my next visit. It is an addiction I believe we all could use.