Discount shoppers forced to adapt with new economic trends


A Dollar Tree Plus isle with $5 laundry hampers @dollartree.goodies5 on Instagram. Dollar Tree | Instagram

The dollar store chain Dollar Tree announced adjustments to their pricing structure alongside Southeastern Wisconsin and Metro Chicago Goodwill’s announcement of big changes to their product offerings.

“For decades, our customers have enjoyed the ‘thrill-of-the-hunt’ for value at one dollar — and we remain committed to that core proposition — but many are telling us that they also want a broader product assortment when they come to shop,” Dollar Tree President and CEO Michael Witynski said.

The store plans on offering items at the $1, $3 and $5 price points at new Dollar Tree Plus locations in an effort to provide a wider variety of products for customers. By the end of 2021, Dollar Tree plans on having 500 Dollar Tree Plus stores.

“We believe testing additional price points above $1 for Dollar Tree products will enable us over time to expand our assortments, introduce new products and meet more of our customers’ everyday needs,” Witynski said.

However, their efforts are not ending there. The dollar store plans to open 1,500 more of these stores in 2022 and then expect to have a total of at least 5,000 Dollar Tree Plus stores by 2024.

“We are a ‘test-and-learn’ organization which is what we are doing with this new initiative,” Witynski said. “Our merchants have proven that they are among the best in the industry in working with suppliers to create extreme value, and we will continue to deliver the ‘thrill-of-the-hunt’ to our customers.”

Nurse and discount shopper Hannah Lanser shops at both Dollar Tree and Goodwill on a weekly basis. While she understands the change Dollar Tree has implemented, she isn’t happy about it.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t really the purpose of the Dollar Tree since it’s not going to be a dollar for everything,” Lanser said. “Kind of disappointing, [yet] understandable since everything else is going up in price all around us — like the McDonald’s dollar menu is not really a thing anymore, so I guess they have to stay competitive with the other industries.”

Meanwhile, Goodwill will stop accepting furniture and larger exercise equipment on Nov. 1 and will discontinue the sale of those products on Dec. 1.

The DePaulia spoke to a Goodwill manager, who asked to remain anonymous as store employees aren’t supposed to speak to the press, about the policy. While Goodwill did not directly tell the manager why these changes were implemented, they have a few ideas.

“We’re getting lots of furniture but only selling a couple pieces a day,” the manager said. “To throw away most of this furniture costs us hundreds [of dollars] and the sales of the furniture does not cover these costs at all.”

The work of the donation attendant position at Goodwill Stores is often busy moving furniture and other large merchandise on the floor. But, this manager still thinks there is enough work to go around.

“I do not think this will interfere with any workflow during the day but we will lose customers due to the fact we won’t have such cheap furniture — we’re known for furniture people can afford,” they said. “However, we’re already too busy. This won’t affect our employees; in fact, I think it will lessen their load.”

A new couch can cost well over $100, sometimes even over $1,000. Allowing low-income shoppers who need more affordable options to feel the repercussions of this new policy.

The manager did say they are personally upset Goodwill is discontinuing furniture sales. They also said that furniture was often a big item for regulars who made money off reselling products they found at the store.

Devoted shoppers like Lanser have seen items disappear from Goodwill’s shelves over time, and worry about what might be to come.

“I hear they are going to be [discontinuing certain items] now,” Lanser said. “I have noticed they don’t have personal items like bras and underpants anymore and they used to, at least new pairs … I feel like it’s not going to be the same, they’re not going to have the same items I normally shop for.”

Despite this change and potential future changes to come, Lanser does not see herself ever walking away from Goodwill, since her love for the store is too strong.

“I just love the thrill of going in there and not knowing exactly what you’re looking for but searching through everything to find a good deal,” Lanser said. “Searching through the racks, searching through the selves — honestly, [it’s] just exciting.”