They have been lauded as cheap tit- for- tat shops, selling low quality items at low prices. But one pound and one dollar stores - also referred to as variety, discount or bargain stores - have been cropping up during the last couple of years throughout the UK and US and in parts of the world.
You walk into a one pound or dollar store and notice that everything you see that is on sale is at the same value; not one single item store price is higher or lower than the other. What you see is what you get and what you get, is what you pay for.
But with the successful proliferation of these types of shops comes the stigma and criticism. That the items are cheap and throwaway, can be easily damaged and will last for a few days. Not forgetting the assumption that shopping at a pound or dollar store implies you are poor, can't afford better quality and that you're willing to settle for less.
Given the nature of the economy & recession at the moment and the financial situations families and individuals are trying to contend with, hard pressed shoppers are on the look out for a bargain and so, they turn to the likes of Poundland for that.
Before the pound and dollar stores came along, if you wanted to shop for value, well you couldn't because back when the internet was still in its early development in the mid -1990s, online shopping didn't come into existence until the mid- 2000s. Nowadays, you can search for a pound or dollar store in your local area. People are aware that they can buy their goods in person, knowing their money will go further in a long way.
Pound and dollar stores instill an urge in us in the ability to buy products and items that most people wouldn't be able to afford, had they shopped in a supermarket, grocery store for example. Because had those exact products been of a higher quality, had a more familiar brand name attached to them, then they would've cost more.
Yes there is a lot of tat in dollar and pound stores, containing toxic materials that can be harmful such as make-up and cosmetics, toiletries, as well as shoddy toys & poor imitation WWE wrestling and action figures made in China. So be on the look out for that, when you pay a visit to a bargain store.
Other things I wouldn't buy are DVDs - they may be £1 but the titles tend to be z-list fare.
Image by Brian Ulrich
I also believe that for some people, they find that some products or items are overpriced; and so therefore, they think they do not reflect the price the recommended retailer has sold it for. When I shop and buy things in person, I buy it knowing that I don't want to pay high prices, but also realizing that they are worth the price I pay for.
I ask: 'is that item actually worth the price the store is charging us?'
Likewise, a pack of 2 Duracell batteries should be £1 or $1 - not £/$2, £/$3 or more. Same for sweets/candy, coke and fizzy drinks, earphones.
When I buy and pay for a product, I do it, knowing it is a good deal.
These pack of biscuits, for example, cost me 99 British pence. I saw the same exact item in a supermarket that went for £3.99. So I saved £3.00.
Quality & to an extent, the branding is another important deciding factor, and whereas the quality is usually based on the amount of money the product costs, as well as the production costs, the higher it costs, the better it is (supposedly), I want to make sure that if I were to buy a pair of quality earphones, if I paid £20 or £30 for it, I expect it to last for more than 6 months. And it stops working during the 6 months that I bought it, or lasts for 2 more months, then to me, I'd feel ripped off.
Bargain stores allows for and encourages people, especially those on a low income, to spend their money and costs and to help keep the retail shopping market sector afloat. Their prices are kept low and to a minimal, so that anyone and everyone can be and are able to buy and afford the products. Whereas if you go into a supermarket and saw a product that you wanted to buy, but you were put off by the price, you wouldn't consider buying it; if you were to go to a one pound/dollar store, and saw something you liked that you wanted to purchase it, you'd pick it up (as an impulse buy and it costs £1/$1) take it to the till, pay for it and take it away.
They encourage impulse bulk buying: for some people like me, I go into the store to get one particular item, for others they want to get more than one item, knowing it costs £/$1 each, so they end up with 4 or more items.
The price has to justify the quality of the product, lack of or otherwise.
The retail consumer landscape has changed for the good to include every single person, household, taking into account that not all households and individuals have the same income level. And even if they do earn more, some would shop at a pound or dollar store out of choice, for a reason. Thrift stores are not considered as main shopping destinations, but for most consumers, they shop there out of convenience and as they act as an go between with convenience and grocery stores and supermarkets.
They are filling a need and a void at a time where a lot of people are struggling with money and financial worries to a point where they are unable to feed themselves and/or their families, as well as to afford the things they need, as opposed to the things they want; therefore, I hope they are here for the long haul.
As long as you avoid the dodgy foreign toys and miscellaneous items, shopping at a no-frills discount store is no bad thing. And don't let anyone tell you any differently.
Image source: Poundland