Don't buy these dollar store duds

After months of raving about dollar stores and all of the neat stuff you can find there, I thought it was time to tell you about some of the things I've bought there over the years that they should never have tried to sell for a buck. Think of this as a buyer beware kind of thing.

Any store can be guilty of less-than-stellar products and in a department store, for example, you're going to be paying a lot more but at least you can take the item back if you're not happy with it.

My local dollar store doesn't allow refunds, which I imagine reduces their costs. If you buy something and then discover it's a piece of junk, you're stuck. Still, if you only come across a dud once in a while, you've only spent $1 and, in my case, I'll take a chance on something so I can report to readers of my newsletter when I do come across something that should be left on the shelf.

Here, then, are a few of my least favorite things, compiled over the past year:

The small and attractive FM radio receiver kept changing channels as I walked.

The dollar store version of the gum-like substance used to hold posters on the wall without the use of tape or pins is called "Instant Tac." It's hard to work with and isn't sticky enough to hold anything on the wall for very long.

You can get a package of two zippered fabric pillow protectors for $1 but they end up piling all over after only a few weeks of use. It doesn't affect the wear but they end up looking very unsightly.

The plastic hose nozzles work well for a few days and then water starts spraying out everywhere except onto the flower bed you're aiming at.

The small lengths of wooden fencing have the attractive look of picket fencing but it wouldn't take to being forced into hard ground and, while it could be planted in soft earth well enough, it couldn't hold up to even summer weather for more than a few weeks.

A Luminus brand tri-light bulb popped on the second turn of the switch.

The chalkboard wall stickers shaped like chubby airplanes, boats and cars for kids' rooms, came with three pieces of chalk and a chalk eraser for $2 but the one I bought kept peeling off of the wall.

Cotton swabs in packages of 400 or more aren't reliable. The sticks bend in half with very little pressure making them kinda useless.

Here's a personal favorite: The can opener is a copy of the Star Frit one that leaves no sharp edges on the lid of the can. It's attractively packaged in a window box that's probably worth more than the can opener. The first time I tried to use it, it went completely to pieces and it hadn't even made a dent in the can.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes ideas and tips for home decorating using only items from the dollar store.

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