Determination, Yet Ultimate Disaster at the Dollar Tree


About once a month or so, I truly try to feel like a champ…at the Dollar Tree.

I pull into the parking lot, avoiding potholes and feeling a little anxious, but assuring myself that I can do it: It’s just a little of the old in and out! I calmly think. Be hasty and relentless!

As I coast into my spot, I see the $1 signs plastered all over the store windows staring at me, almost jeering, and reminding me of all the delightful dollar deliciousness waiting inside.

Focus, Andee. You CAN do this.

I review my list. I pump myself up and proclaim, This is it! This is the day I will get in and out with just three items! Ok, five items max, but that’s it!

Panic seizes me as I realize I may be underestimating all the things we might need. After all, they are only a dollar. I am saving us money by going here, right? RIGHT?!

Ok, ten items. Only ten.

I get out of my car, confidence at an all-time high, adrenaline pumping through my veins, heart racing, emotions running high.

And then I see all the green carts. Oooohhhh, they finally added cart corrals…a nice touch! But WAIT, I sharply remind myself. I don’t need a cart today. I’m going to carry my three, er, 10 items to the register and leave. And that’s how it’s going to go.

Except that’s literally how it never goes.

I try to spread these visits out, but when they do happen, watch out…DANGER! I can’t just buy one thing. Or ten things.

Yep, it NEVER seems to work. Especially if my toddler is with me…then oh my gosh, forget any kind of brief or cheap visit from gracing my life. There is inevitably some kind of a balloon tied to my cart because he insists with cute urgency that he needs a “You’re #1!” or “Get Well” balloon to take home each time. And he always throws in a magic towel (the ones that are super duper compact, but then once you add water…POOF! It’s suddenly a wash cloth with Chase from Paw Patrol staring at you). And weeeeee! It’s suddenly a party up in here!

So let me expound about my actual trips to the Dollar Tree…it all starts with visions of grandeur and restraint, and ends with me driving away panicking and thinking of how fast I can put everything away before my husband gets home from work.

I try to stay focused on my true course once I enter the store. I try to stick to only the areas and aisles I targeted for this particular shopping trip. Essentially, I’m trying to keep blinders on and just find what I came in for.

But nope, I eventually succumb to examine all the things; all the options.

“Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

And sometimes this means you go there too much. You know it’s bad when you walk in and the cashier wildly waves and says, “Hiiiiii Andee! Where ya been?!”

I can’t help but become a little giddy.                       

Anyway, before long, I realize I now have tiki cups and funky neon straws and aqua bowls in my cart that I absolutely do not need (“But look how cute they are?!” I will tell my hubby later, as he stares wildly at the random items and then back at me blankly, mouth open in disbelief).

And I see another woman my age examining something nearby; it must be good. I *might* need that. Put it in the cart. Sweet chicken! It’s just a dollar!

And before I know it…Eek! I gasp. Help! Red alert! Abort, abort! Just leave now!

I go there to get some birthday cards (hey, two for a dollar!) and maybe some gift bags and paper plates. But then I depart with five monster trucks, two jumbo bubbles, a Minions-themed bowl, some generic gummy snacks (my toddler insists on me buying them, but won’t realize they taste awful until he tries them), a loaf of Wonder Bread (because oh, dear! They have name-brand bread), colored pens, smiley face stickers (so cute!), three cheap dog toys that will be destroyed within minutes, a spatula, air freshener pellets, two plastic tupperware containers and ten cans of canned chicken (because my adorable, yet prissy dog refuses to eat dog food, and the vet said canned chicken is the next best option, so, let’s just hope it’s real chicken).

And that’s just the front half of the cart.

I rationalize with myself that I will certainly weed out some items on the way to the register, especially when my toddler isn’t looking; I’ll have much less in my current gregarious lil’ green cart by the time I get there.

Lies! Unintentional, reassuring, beautiful little lies!

I hang my head in shame. I swear under my breath. I should be sucking my thumb in the corner and asking for a six pack so I can further revel in my derailed Dollar Tree debacle.

Damn you, Dollar Tree!

It has happened again.

I’ve succumbed to the totally tantalizing, enticing enchiladas of dollar mania.

I understand why my husband absolutely DREADS when I’m going to the Dollar Tree. He looks a little pale if I give him advanced warning that I’m going. His voice quivers. He asks what exactly I’m going there for, and inquires if I really need to go. Deep down he knows the terror that is about to ensue. He knows I will have 80 random items all accumulated in my green cart, ready to take home and unpack and disperse. Undoubtedly, the wrath of Dollar Tree will be unleashed in our house: Cheap plastic toys that will most likely be broken within one day. Puffy,  yet flimsy dog toys that will be shredded within 10 minutes. Multiple colored pens and stationery and post-it notes…oh my!

Cheap, cheap, cheap…but it’s SO good!

They even added a freezer section. If it’s stocked, you can find all sorts of goodies, like steak (let me know how it is) and eggs and french fries and vegetables and ice cream. It’s nice to know the Dollar Tree has your back if you want to go getcha some string cheese and a Monster drink.

Toward the end of my failed “fast” visits, people are usually staring at my cart, terrified and withholding their gasps, but I know they really want to grunt or sigh or cut me. They give me total WTF glares and looks of desperation, waiting to see if I’m going to allow them to go ahead of me in line, because for some reason this store really enjoys keeping only one of its four registers open.

I once had a little girl completely whine to her mom about all my goodies on the conveyor belt, “Mommy, mommy! Look! This is going to take FOREVERRRRR.”

Based on the sheer annoyance of her tone and whine to her mom, I wanted to tell her that she should shut her mouth when she’s talking behind my back about my Dollar Tree goodies, but since she was a little one, I let it go. I may have no restraint with dollar bargains, but I’m not an animal.

So, I always let the lucky customers behind me skip ahead so I can live, or at least to avoid glares. By the time I finally get to check out, I have already let about four or five people ahead of me. And, when it’s finally my turn, and I’m making small talk with the cashier and acting cool as the cucumber slicer in my cart, but deep down, I’m praying she is scanning that shizz faster than a cheetah chasing its dinner because oh my gosh, more people could be coming to check out with their three items (like normal individuals), and I don’t want to face their judgy eyes.

I always wonder in all and gaze at the people in line ahead of me who only buy one or two items…how do they do it? How do they exercise such self-control? They are like superheroes. It truly is inspirational. I hold onto the hope…I’m hoping against hope, really…that I can be like that one day.

And, wouldn’t it be nice if every time a Dollar tree employee scanned an item, an angel got its wings?

So, invariably each time I go and leave with my overflowing cart of dollops of dollar bargains, it makes me wonder if I should ever have gone there in the first place because I realize there is NO way I just saved money. Should I have just gone to Target or Meijer to get the select items I needed? 

Yet, the truth is that if I went to Target, I know I would have left with an adorable handbag, a chevron bikini, a photo collage clock, an aromatherapy candle (because I obviously need therapy), moisturizer, sandals and/or/all of the above…with an incredibly cute polka dot towel. Uh oh, now I have Target on the brain. So, the Dollar Tree is probably safer after all?

I guess the problem isn’t with the Dollar Tree…it’s with me. Ok, Dollar Tree. Well played. I’ll take all the blame as you wave your delectable dollar bargains in my face! Now, if you could just get some automated doors so my exit out of the store is a little more graceful and everyone doesn’t watch, just waiting for things to topple out as I AWKWARDLY push the door open with my clunky, overflowing cart…

Ultimately, I know my shortcomings. And luckily I’m a firm believer that when you falter, you get up. You don’t quit. And I won’t quit. Until next time, Dollar Tree. I will see you for another showdown in about a month, maybe two, so my hubby doesn’t have a heart attack. It’s going dowwwwn!


Comments are closed.