Dollar stores aren’t just good for dolphin figurines–they’re great places for school supplies. Image courtesy of Flickr user Dagny Scott. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.The New York Times recently published an article about the rise of dollar stores as major companies. Though the article is somewhat depressing (the reason that they’re succeeding is because the economy has so utterly tanked that no one has money for Wal-Mart), it does remind us that dollar stores are frequently conveniently located, cheap places to find the things that you’d otherwise have to pay through the nose for on campus.

The article focuses on people using various dollar stores as a replacement for groceries. Though this is no doubt doable for college students (particularly for boxed pasta, cake mixes, and drinks), it’s not the only thing that the dollar store is useful for. It’s also a great place to pick up note taking supplies for class.

I–like several members of the staff–digitize any of my paper notes at the end of the semester. As a result, it really doesn’t matter to me if my notebooks are super high quality, as they’re going to be scanned and recycled in four months. So, there’s no reason for me to invest in anything more than the same quality of notebook than I would be buying at the grocery store. (If you want a really high quality notebook, Luke’s tutorial is the way to go.) When you’re talking about really cheap notebooks, there is no difference between the dollar store kind and the kind that you might buy at CVS, the grocery store, or your local big box retailer.

While my spiral-bound notebooks and composition books would be $3 or $4 at the grocery store, they’re just $1 at dollar stores. Because parents are unlikely to have stopped by the dollar store for school supplies for K-12 kids, you may even have a less picked-over selection to look at than you would at a larger retailer. The same goes for cheap pens and pencils, highlighters, index cards, and folders–which are about as in-depth as my school supplies ever go.

In addition, dollar stores are a great resource for anything that you might normally buy at a party supply store. Paper plates, streamers, and cheesy banners–all good for low-key birthday parties or club events–are much cheaper there than they are anywhere else.

Do you have a favorite dollar store item? Let us know in the comments!