How to Buy Merchandise for a Dollar Store


How to Buy Merchandise for a Dollar Store

Starting and maintaining a successful dollar store requires careful planning, smart sourcing, and effective management. Follow these 50 tips, including resources and sources, to navigate the world of purchasing merchandise for your dollar store.

1. Market Research:

Understand your target audience, location, and competition. Check census data and local demographics to tailor your inventory.
2. Develop a Budget:

Determine how much you're willing to invest in inventory. Consider expenses like rent, utilities, and marketing.
3. Establish Supplier Relationships:

Build strong connections with reliable suppliers for consistent and affordable merchandise. Online B2B marketplaces like Alibaba ( can be useful.
4. Diversify Product Range:

Offer a variety of products to cater to different customer preferences. Source items from categories like household, stationery, beauty, and toys.
5. Quality Check:

Cheap doesn't have to mean poor quality. Inspect samples before bulk ordering to ensure product quality meets customer expectations.
6. Attend Trade Shows:

Attend industry trade shows and expos to connect with suppliers, learn about new products, and negotiate deals.
7. Online Wholesalers:

Explore platforms like Wholesale Central ( and DollarDays ( for bulk purchases at competitive rates.
8. Liquidation Sales:

Consider buying products from liquidation sales, clearance, or overstock items. Websites like ( can be valuable.
9. Local Manufacturers:

Source locally-made products to support your community and create unique offerings.
10. Negotiate Terms:

Negotiate payment terms, discounts, and shipping costs with suppliers to maximize your profit margins.
11. Membership Clubs:

Join wholesale clubs like Costco ( or Sam's Club ( to access bulk pricing on various items.
12. Dollar Store Suppliers:

Look for suppliers specializing in dollar store merchandise. Companies like Dollar Store Services ( offer complete solutions.
13. Online Forums:

Participate in forums like ( to exchange ideas, insights, and supplier recommendations.
14. Clearance Sections:

Check out clearance sections of retail stores and online marketplaces for discounted items that can be resold at a profit.
15. Dollar Store Trade Publications:

Subscribe to trade magazines like "Dollar Store Decisions" ( to stay updated on industry trends and supplier information.
16. Bulk Orders:

Buying in bulk reduces costs per unit. Make sure you have adequate storage space.
17. Private Labeling:

Consider creating your brand and labeling for specific products. This can differentiate your store and lead to higher margins.
18. Online Auctions:

Explore auction sites like eBay ( for bulk lots of merchandise at potentially lower prices.
19. Supplier Directories:

Utilize directories like ThomasNet ( to find manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.
20. Holiday and Seasonal Products:

Offer themed items for holidays and seasons. Stock up in advance to meet customer demand.
21. Networking:

Attend industry events and meet fellow dollar store owners to share experiences and learn from each other.
22. Customer Feedback:

Listen to customer preferences and requests to adjust your inventory accordingly.
23. Online Reviews:

Check online reviews of potential suppliers to gauge their reputation and reliability.
24. Sample Orders:

Request sample orders before committing to large quantities to assess product quality.
25. Shipping Costs:

Consider shipping costs when comparing prices from different suppliers.
26. Product Rotation:

Regularly rotate your inventory to keep the store fresh and exciting for repeat customers.
27. Bulk Packaging:

Items in bulk packaging often have lower costs, but ensure you have smaller packaging available for customers.
28. Price Comparison Tools:

Use tools like Google Shopping ( to compare prices from different retailers.
29. Social Media Groups:

Join Facebook groups or LinkedIn communities related to retail and sourcing to get advice and supplier recommendations.
30. Test New Products:

Introduce new products in small quantities initially to gauge customer interest before making larger orders.
31. Maintain Relationships:

Cultivate strong relationships with suppliers by communicating openly and consistently.
32. Visit Local Wholesale Warehouses:

Explore local wholesale warehouses to discover deals and assess product quality firsthand.
33. Embrace E-commerce:

Utilize e-commerce platforms to expand your customer base beyond your physical store.
34. Dropshipping:

Consider dropshipping for items with higher shipping costs or limited storage space.
35. Analyze Sales Data:

Use POS software to analyze sales data and identify your best-selling products.
36. Product Trends:

Stay informed about industry trends to stock up on in-demand products.
37. Supplier Payment Terms:

Negotiate longer payment terms to manage cash flow effectively.
38. Purchase in Advance:

Buy products in advance for peak seasons to avoid stockouts.
39. Brand Surplus Stores:

Source branded items from surplus stores for resale at a discounted price.
40. Google Alerts:

Set up Google Alerts for keywords related to dollar store merchandise to get timely updates.
41. Packaging Supplies:

Source packaging supplies in bulk to reduce costs over time.
42. Collaborate with Local Artisans:

Partner with local artisans to showcase their unique creations in your store.
43. Clearance from Big Box Retailers:

Purchase clearance items from big box retailers like Walmart ( for resale.
44. Stay Updated on Regulations:

Be aware of any legal regulations or restrictions regarding the products you're selling.
45. Supplier Visits:

If feasible, visit supplier facilities to assess their production process and build stronger relationships.
46. Buy Off-Season:

Purchase seasonal items after the season ends for next year's inventory.
47. Loyalty Programs:

Join supplier loyalty programs to access exclusive discounts and offers.
48. Customer Suggestions:

Encourage customers to suggest products they'd like to see in your store.
49. Reverse Auctions:

Participate in reverse auctions on platforms like Ariba ( to secure competitive prices.
50. Adapt and Evolve:

Continuously adapt your inventory based on sales trends, customer feedback, and market changes.
Remember, successful sourcing requires a combination of careful planning, negotiation skills, and a commitment to meeting customer needs. By following these tips and using the recommended resources, you'll be well on your way to stocking your dollar store with a diverse and appealing range of merchandise.