Family Dollar. Dollar General. Big Lots. Deal$. I’m sure there are a zillion other low-end regional deep-discount store chains I don’t even know about. What these places all have in common is that they sell everything at rock-bottom prices. Almost everything is going to be some no-name Chinese knock-off brand, or there might be a few name-brand items that are obsolete, normally low-priced, or both.

But you know what? That’s perfectly all right. Sometimes you don’t need to spend $20 on a set of earbuds. If you left your earphones at home, or the battery on your Bluetooth has run down, and you don’t want to spend real money on something you just need for a little bit, what more do you need? Those $5 RCA Budz or “Purple Vibes” aren’t going to give you audiophile quality, but they’ll play the music. Some of those $5 ‘phones even have an in-line microphone.

$11 for an 8 GB flash drive or a 16 GB micro SD card isn’t the best price in the world—you’ll probably find it cheaper on Amazon—but it’s certainly good enough if you need it right now. And who knows what else you might find? I’ve found some perfectly serviceable mice in places like that, or USB cables, or blank CD-ROMs, or whatever else might be handy. (I found that $1 4 GB SD card I mentioned yesterday, for example.) It varies from store to store, too. Big Lots in particular tends to have a little better-quality stuff than the others.

In any event, it can be fun to wander through these places sometimes and see what you can find. You’re probably not going to find anything too expensive, but you might find something cheap and useful. And whatever you find will be cheap enough you won’t feel too bad about shelling out a few bucks, and then you’ll have a new toy to play with.

Maybe if it turns out to be something that’s useful enough, you can spend real money on a more expensive version later. I think my first headphones with an in-line mic came from a discount store like this, and later on I upgraded to Skullcandy.

IMG_20150921_173758I picked up a dopey-looking “HYPE” brand “mini rechargeable bomb speaker” for $2.50 today just because it looked like some silly fun. It’s probably complete junk, but at least I get the experience of playing with it for just a couple of bucks.

So if you’re looking for some cheap junk that might be fun to play with, take a look at your local deep-discount place. You never know; maybe you’ll find something there that might be worth grabbing. At the least, you’ll find something new to play with.


  1. I’m on vacation. I forgot to pack a mini usb cable to connect an older peripheral to my laptop. I found one (used of course) for $1.99 at Goodwill. It works.It was cheap. I am too cheap to pay $20 for a new one.

    (for those outside of the US and Canada, Goodwill is a chain of “thrift stores”. They re-sell items that are donatted b the general public.)

  2. When you want it fast, and it’s close by- a niche that Radio Shack once filled. Fry’s, a discount electronics chain store, with prices and selection that usually match Amazon, gets my business more often than Amazon, as I can get it fast at Fry’s.

    • If I’m going to be near a Fry’s, I tend to agree with you—especially since Fry’s matches Amazon’s prices these days (under specific circumstances), and Amazon charges sales tax in Indiana. So if Fry’s is likely to have it, I can get it at Amazon’s prices now. Though given how much trouble I have to go to in order to get to a Fry’s (it’s way out northeast of town, a couple of miles beyond where even the buses go), ordering from Amazon actually tends to be easier.

      Though Fry’s wasn’t really the kind of “discount store” I meant in this article…

  3. There’s a Dollar Tree store in the town up the road, and I stop in whenever I’m in the area. Amazing bargains, including cleaning supplies for the house, dishes, toys, gadgets and greeting cards (which means I can afford to send cards to all my grandkids at $1 per card). I’ve picked up several flash drives for $1 each, and even though they don’t hold huge amounts of data, for a buck they work just fine — and they make great stock stuffers.

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