Dollar Stores: Not just for college students anymore

I first discovered dollar stores when I went to college. My local mall had a Dollar Tree, and I explored it extensively, delighting in the tons of weird, semi-useless junk that filled every inch of the place. I bought most of my dorm decorations there, loading up on silly refrigerator magnets, useless ceramic cows (they made great gifts for friends who were majoring in Animal Sciences), and candle-powered incense cookers. Sometimes, as in the case of the incense cookers, my purchases didn't work out too well; the incense had a narcotic effect, so every time I put a batch on to cook, I'd wake up a half hour later, dazed, headachy, and unable to remember my name. Most of the time, though, I went in with low expectations, which meant that my dollar store purchases left me extremely happy.

As time went on, I discovered other inexpensive retail establishments, like Wal-Mart, the YMCA thrift store, and the local Target. The plastic items clogging up the dollar store started to seem cheap and junky, and I decided that my dollar store days were behind me. This isn't to say that I abandoned the Dollar Tree completely: every December, I would return to buy toy guns, wooden puzzles, and other cheap, fun toys to jam into my family's Christmas stockings. For all its low-budget campy-ness, I could always count on my local dollar store to come through with fun holiday presents that my family and I could enjoy, albeit with a truckload of irony.