There seems to be an endless amount of curiosity surrounding dollar stores. And we get it — dollar stores are full of you can't find anywhere else and (and yes, also some ). But honestly, we've always wanted to know more. Like how is it possible to sell all those items so cheaply? And is that bargain-priced food actually safe to eat?
Well thanks to Brandon, a somewhat-secretive Dollar General manager and his recent — where he did an "ask me anything" Q&A — we now know even more about the popular chains. Here's what we found most interesting about his insider information:
1. Dollar stores don't sell items that are faulty or broken — they're discounted for a different reason. "I assume like any retailer the product is so cheap because it's bought in massive bulk quantities (DG has around 20,000 stores to supply)," Brandon said. "To be honest, most of the products that aren't food are made in China, so you can probably guess why it's cheap."
2. But there's one precaution he recommends when buying food: "It's always a good habit to check expiration dates in any store," he said, "but you should be okay if the store team rotates the food."
3. Yes, the stores are cheap, but the company is not. "Normal starting pay for managers is $34-40,000 and is negotiable to some degree," Brandon explained. "I'm in that range. I know another manager that's been with Dollar General for 15 years and gets paid $80,000. Your pay depends on the size of the store you manage, location, and time with the company. You also get bonuses but I split those with my crew."
4. And the company seems pretty strict. In fact, you can get fired on the spot for something seemingly harmless. When asked if he ever lost his keys, he replied, "If you lose your keys you get fired instantly, so thankfully no."
5. The unofficial biggest seller may (or may not) surprise you. "The biggest steady seller for a single item would have to be cigarettes," he said, "around 600 packs a week sold at my store."
6. And the most shoplifted items are... odd. "The two most shoplifted items is a tie between clothes and Tide Pods," the manager said. "People were just slicing open the Tide Pod Pouches and dumping them into a bag. But I've seen a lot of stupid things get stolen like two packs [of] hot cocoa mix out of a box, a few trash bags out of a box, a few Ziploc bags out of a box that were only a dollar to begin with... tons more."
7. Laundry products are considered the best deals, according to his customers. "I get told laundry products. Beer is cheap too, same with phone chargers," he said when asked what the best dollar store deals are. "We have iPhone 5 and 6 chargers for $15, while the stores down the street sell them for $30-40. Most of are our products are cheaper than other big box stores apparently (been told this by customers). Greeting cards are a deal. Most are 50¢-$1. If you go to a place like Hallmark they're about five bucks for the same ones."
8. And other dollar stores aren't the main source of competition. "Walmart markets are the competition and ever since four of them sprang up around my city, my district hasn't been breaking last year's sales," he explained.