September 9, 2008

Guest Column: You Should Never Buy Pregnancy Tests From a Dollar Store

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I felt unsatisfied and a little dirty as I did my walk-of-shame to the car. I double-checked my bag and then looked around the area to see if I knew anybody around. I’m in the clear. What was I doing there? I know I wasn’t looking for anything substantial, but really? Maybe I just needed a little bit more fun in my life … though clearly I went to the wrong place for that. My motives were originally so pure, and now here I sat, disappointed and wishing to be home.
A trip to the Dollar Tree isn’t something anybody is ever really proud of. Maybe you went in thinking you’d find some gifts for big-little week, or maybe you thought you could pick up some decorations for your new apartment in Collegetown. But are you ever really satisfied with what you find?
I highly doubt it. The flickering fluorescent lights and ominously stained carpet (which tends to squish when you walk) says it all — you’re not in Kansas anymore. While I’m not denying a few good buys (paper plates and nerf guns), there are countless items at the Dollar Tree that transform it from a palace of penny-pinching innocence into a hole of grime and deception. So, instead of trying to completely deter you from what could be quite the interesting … adventure, I’ve composed a list of the top five things you should never buy (to use intentionally) at the Dollar Tree.

1. Surface Cleaner: On the back wall of the Dollar Tree, you’ll find shelves filled with bottles that look remarkably similar to the lit-up bottles you’ll find behind the bars at fraternity parties. Do not be fooled. These are not bottles of highlighter fluid but, in fact, bottles of surface cleaner. While you may be thinking that quality cleaning solution is not really necessary and you may as well haggle down to these minimal prices, take a step back and think of the logistics of wiping your glass windows with neon-pink liquid. Will it leave a sticky residue? Yes. Could that residue also be pink? I would imagine it could. Take that into consideration when trying to impress the ladies with how clean your house is.
2. Wedding Supplies: When in need, you can turn to the Dollar Tree for all of your wedding essentials. Here, you can purchase invitations to your bridal shower, bubbles in the shape of champagne bottles, rings, one-size-fits-all garter belts, crowns and sashes with which to parade yourself across the town. Go ahead and buy yourself that veil and throw a fake wedding on Sunday. Put up the “Just Married” sign on the back of your car for April Fools Day. Just remember, the operative phrase of this article is “use intentionally.”
3. Hygienic Products: Broad and vague, this overarching topic covers just enough stuff that I feel like I’m opening people’s eyes to factors they should consider when looking to purchase any item that may be used behind bathroom doors.
One example is toothpaste. It may seem harmless, but remember what I was mentioning about the surface cleaner? Even brand name toothpaste found in dollar stores are manufactured in different places (namely China) and found with up to 10-times more fluoride than regular toothpaste. Vitamins found at these places usually cannot be digested fully or are already past their expiration date. Other products such as tampons … let’s just leave those up to the imagination.
4. Toy Cars: Now I seem really crazy — why wouldn’t you buy cheap-o toys at the Dollar Tree? Most people think the point of the Dollar Tree is strictly to buy toys, and here I am, listing it as one of the top things you should never buy. Last December, the Dollar Tree had a recall of 300,000 toy cars due to high levels of lead in the paint.
Along with the cars, the Dollar Tree also recalled metal jewelry for containing similarly high levels of lead. I did not list the jewelry, however, because I assume the fine ladies of Cornell University would be too embarrassed to wear (read: admit that they would wear) jewelry from the Dollar Tree.
5. Pregnancy test: Unless you’ve witnessed this with your own two eyes, it almost seems unfathomable that the Dollar Tree would even sell pregnancy tests. The test is, in fact, the main attraction of the whole store — the icing on the cake. The scariest part of the one-dollar pregnancy test is that in most Dollar Tree’s, it’s located by the cash register, a.k.a. the impulse-buy aisle.
I’m not sure what kind of customers they expect to be patrnozing this fine establishment. Who do they expect that, as an impulse, would feel the need to stock up on pregnancy tests? Scarily enough, people do exist, and those are the people that happen to trust the Dollar Tree to provide them with accurate information on whether or not they’re expecting.