When it comes to buying things in bulk, few stores can compete with the low prices of warehouse clubs like Costco. But lately another discount store has been flexing its muscles and showing warehouse retailers they’re not the only ones who can offer savings on bulk items. That store would be Dollar Tree.
Yes, when you buy goods online, Dollar Tree will sell you them in bulk. As in its stores, most goods bought on Dollar Tree’s website are $1.25 per unit. Sometimes the bulk purchases don’t make sense — unless you want to buy 24 toilet bowl brushes at a time — but other times the bulk goods are sold at better per-unit prices than the king of bulk goods itself, Costco.
There are some caveats to keep in mind — like the quality of your goods and shipping charges — but if you’re looking for the lowest prices possible for your personal finance goals, here are five popular products that are cheaper at Dollar Tree.
1. Toilet paper
- Dollar Tree: $0.31 per roll (240 sheets per roll)
- Costco: $0.69 per roll (231 sheets)
Costco and Dollar Tree both have lower prices on toilet paper than most grocery stores. But Dollar Tree has a surprisingly better value. When comparing Dollar Tree’s “Strong and Soft” rolls with Costco’s Ultra Soft, Dollar Tree sells toilet paper at nearly half the price.
One thing to keep in mind — Dollar Tree requires you to buy a minimum of 24 packs of four rolls a piece. You’ll get 96 rolls for $30, which is a slightly higher sticker price than Costco’s 36 rolls at $24.99.
2. Kitchen drawstring trash bags (13 gallon)
- Dollar Tree: $0.096 per bag
- Costco: $0.10 per bag
Costco’s Kirkland Kitchen Drawstring Bags come in at $20.49 for 200 bags, while Dollar Tree sells boxes of 13 at $1.25 a piece. The minimum purchase requirement at Dollar Tree is 48 (or 624 bags) for $60.
As far as quality goes, I’ve never used Dollar Tree trash bags, but I’m a big fan of Costco’s Kitchen bags. I use them to empty our cats’ litter boxes and they never rip, even when the bag is already filled with trash. Before you buy 624 garbage bags from Dollar Tree, I recommend going to the store, buying one box, and testing them out first.
3. Baby wipes
- Dollar Tree: $0.017 per wipe
- Costco: $0.024 per wipe
This is a great Dollar Tree buy for parents with newborns — for $1.25, you get 72 Fisher-Price Fragrance-Free baby wipes. You have to buy at least 12 packs for $15. But even so, the price is slightly less than Costco’s pack of 900 wipes for $21.99.
4. Batteries (AA)
- Dollar Tree: $0.31 per battery
- Costco: $0.34 per battery
Dollar Tree batteries are just a wee bit cheaper than Costco’s batteries: $1.25 for four Panasonic AA Super Heavy Duty batteries versus 48 Kirkland Signature AA batteries at $16.49.
As far as which battery is better: the Kirkland batteries are made by Duracell. A recent Canadian study found that Duracell batteries last almost three times as long as Panasonic Super Heavy: 7.8 hours versus 25.4. If we compare these two batteries by their power, Costco’s batteries might be the better long-term buy. However, if you’re just looking for cheap batteries for low-power intensive use, Dollar Tree will give you a lower price.
5. Three-ring binders
- Dollar Tree: $1.25
- Costco: $2.13
Dollar Tree’s three-ring binders are surprisingly cheap — $1.25 each. It’s hard to beat that anymore, but Costco comes close at $2.13 per binder when you buy a pack of six. Again, you may want to buy one first to ensure the quality is up to snuff before buying six of them.
Avoid shipping charges at Dollar Tree
One thing to keep in mind is that Dollar Tree will charge you for shipping when you make purchases online, while Costco’s online prices have shipping charges built into them. You can avoid shipping fees at Dollar Tree, however, by picking up items in store.
All in all, Dollar Tree has very low prices on bulk items. However, I would test out the products first to make sure their value stacks up against the price. Because you have to buy these items in very large quantities from Dollar Tree’s website to save so much money, it would be a waste to buy something that doesn’t suit your taste. You can buy them in smaller quantities by shopping in-store, then opting for the bulk items online.
Costco’s products, on the other hand, are known for their value. Even if the prices are slightly higher, you might be getting better quality. That won’t always be the case, but bear this in mind when comparing the two retailers, as lower prices don’t always mean you’re getting the best deal.
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