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Get ready, Tampa Bay: Dollar Tree is about to cost you an extra 25 cents

After 35 years, the popular discount store will raise the price on most items from a buck to $1.25. Fans call it the end of an era.
Dollar Tree stores like this one in St. Petersburg are raising the price of most items from $1 to $1.25.
Dollar Tree stores like this one in St. Petersburg are raising the price of most items from $1 to $1.25. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 30, 2021|Updated Nov. 30, 2021

Paula Southern shops at Dollar Tree “for just about everything they have, because they’re reasonable” — cleaning products, greeting cards, materials for her holiday crafts.

“I pretty much am a Dollar Tree gal,” said Southern, 81, who lives in Tampa.

Devotees of the popular chain — where for 35 years everything from dinner plates to dog leashes to dish towels cost a dollar — recently got the news that soon, most Dollar Tree items will go up to $1.25.

Customers hit the Dollar Tree at 1900 34th St. N in St. Petersburg.
Customers hit the Dollar Tree at 1900 34th St. N in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

“The company believes this is the appropriate time to shift away from the constraints of the $1 price point in order to continue offering extreme value to customers,” said a Dollar Tree news release. “This decision is permanent and is not a reaction to short-term or transitory market conditions.”

The new price, which will be implemented in all stores by the end of March, will pave the way for new products and sizes as well as the return of many “customer favorites” that were discontinued “due to the constraints of the $1 price point,” the release said.

Supply-chain disruptions and high freight costs are “the company’s biggest challenge in the near term,” according to the release.

Shelley Kohan, adjunct professor at Syracuse University who specializes in retail, said with the dollar store model, inflation would eventually catch up, leading to prices being more than a dollar. Customers may be sad to see the decades-old “dollar mantra” die, she said, but the company can offer “a broader assortment of products and maintain a profit model that can support the long-term success of the business.”

The company previously announced plans to sell items for $1, $3 and $5 at Dollar Tree Plus stores.

The news comes as shoppers deal with inflation coupled with supply-chain issues that have made some items scarce on store shelves. Dollar Tree is known for holiday decorations, party items and gift wrap as well as daily staples from frozen food to shampoo and shaving cream.

Consumers have reacted.

“2021 — the year of the death of the dollar store,” lamented a fan on Twitter. “The dollar store announced it’s raising prices to $1.25 and now the world doesn’t make sense anymore,” tweeted another.

“Dollar Tree price increases are an example of using a temporary economic condition to raise prices unnecessarily ... ,” Robert Addleton of Bradenton wrote in an emailed response to the Tampa Bay Times. “Greed is the answer.”

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But Lois Ezell of Clearwater called the increase justified: “They deserve to make a reasonable profit like every other business.”

As for Southern, loading up her purchases in the parking lot of a South Tampa Dollar Tree this week, she said she understood why prices are going up given the current state of the world.

“I don’t like it,” she said. “But I’m not going to stop shopping here.”

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