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Editorial: Alas, a dollar isn't what it used to be
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Editorial: Alas, a dollar isn't what it used to be

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Dollar Tree Breaking the $1 Barrier

Dollar Tree store logos, indicating that everything in the store is for $1, are promoted on a storefront window in Jackson, Miss., in this February photo.

Breaking news: Everything is not a dollar.

In a sure sign that inflation is bearing down on us, the Dollar Tree chain has announced that it is going to stock items that cost more than a buck in many of its more than 15,000 U.S. and Canadian stores.

For the heedless spendthrift throwing money around like a drunken sailor, it soon will be possible to blow as much as five dollars on an item in the famously inexpensive shopping destination.

“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,” CEO Michael Witynski said in a statement, as reported by the Associated Press.

Witynski said Dollar Tree is a “test-and-learn” company, and they’ll be watching how customers react, the AP reported.

The change was inevitable. Annual inflation was up 4.2 percent in July, the highest it’s been in three decades. The item you bought for $1 in 1986, when the chain opened, would, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator, cost $2.50 now.

Supply chain problems and rising labor costs are contributing factors as we try to find our way out of the pandemic. A dollar isn’t what it used to be in the old days, like a year ago.

Investors apparently love Dollar Tree’s move toward extravagant spending. Shortly after the Chesapeake-based chain announced its dollar-busting plan late last month, its stock rose 13 percent at the opening bell on Sept. 29.

Make no mistake: Despite the name, Dollar Tree is no nickel-and-dime operation. From that modest start 35 years ago (original name: Only $1.00), the Virginia operation has grown into a Fortune 500 company.

The move to break the dollar barrier should surprise no one. At Dollar Tree and elsewhere, the buck has taken a beating, although some things still can be had for a dollar.

Among the limited items a website listed recently that cost a dollar or less: A cup of coffee at McDonald’s; a Megabus ticket (limited number on each bus); a Classic Crispy Chicken Jr. sandwich at Burger King; a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon (if you buy it by the case, and who doesn’t?); a lottery ticket or select Kindle books.

You probably can still tip the dancers at your favorite local “gentlemen’s club” with ones, although fives are definitely better appreciated.

For the frugal husband doing last-minute shopping (“Wait. Christmas is on the 25th this year?”), Dollar Tree’s move requires some thought. That $20 you withdrew from the ATM might not yield as much change when you’re checking out after your spree at the Tree.

And when your beloved opens that special gift, be sure to tell her that just because it comes from Dollar Tree doesn’t mean you paid only a buck for it. Could have set you back as much as a five-spot.

And when she mutters, “Big spender,” you can be sure she means it.

—Adapted from an editorial

in The (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star

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