By Michael Axe

While many retail stores are struggling, dollar stores are booming (and a favorite with millennials). Between 2005 and 2016, the number of dollar stores has increased by 58 percent to more than 29,400, according to Nielsen data.

Some people assume that just because dollar stores sell inexpensive items, that everything sold at a dollar store is junk. Like any store you visit, some items are worth the cost, while others you can skip. And you might be surprised that some items actually cost more than a dollar!

Worth the cost

Puzzles – If you know anyone, child or adult, who loves to work on puzzles, dollar stores are a great resource. You can pick up two or three puzzles for the same price you could buy one puzzle at a typical store.

Gift wrap – Let’s be real, that fancy paper is only on the gift for a few hours before it’s ripped to shreds. Save yourself some money and buy it from a dollar store.

Party supplies – Balloons, streamers, plates and cups – you name it the dollar store has it. You can decorate an entire party for most occasions for only a few bucks. Unless you’re a party planning aficionado, you won’t know the difference.

Craft supplies – Have a craft project? Head over to the dollar store before going anywhere else. Dollar stores carry many of the same items you’ll find at a traditional retail or craft store.

Candy – Candy has a ridiculous shelf life. Stop by the dollar store and feed your sweet tooth craving to get more bang for your buck.

Not worth it

Drinks – While it may seem like you’re saving money, the price you pay for drinks (sports drinks, soda, juice, water) at the dollar store is roughly the same you’ll pay at a regular grocery store. In fact, when grocery stores place drinks on sale, which is usually every other week, the price is typically cheaper than the dollar store.

Kitchen supplies – When you’re cooking you want to make sure you have reliable tools. The last thing you want while cooking is your food to get stuck to your skillet or have your utensils break.

Make-up – I’ve learned a lot from my wife over the years. One of which is that make-up is no joke. Make-up at a dollar store is a perfect example of the phrase, “you get what you pay for.” Spend the extra buck or two and buy yourself some quality make-up.

Food – Purchasing food at a dollar store can be tricky. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind buying off-brand products. It’s just that some of the items seem a little too “off” for my comfort level. If you’re trying to save a few bucks on groceries, you’re better off searching for deals at your local grocery store.

Pet supplies – Pets, especially dogs, can tear into toys fairly easily. Any time I’ve purchased something for my cat or dog at the dollar store, it’s usually destroyed within a week or is never touched. Either way it was a waste of money. Spend the few extra dollars and buy your pet quality products.

Your turn: Tell us what your favorite deals are at the dollar stores in the comments below.