We visited a Dollar Tree in both a city and a suburb to compare. They were so different we couldn’t believe they were part of the same chain.

The Dollar Tree that we visited in Jersey City was filled with boxes and messy shelves.

caption
The Dollar Tree that we visited in Jersey City was filled with boxes and messy shelves.
source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider
  • Dollar Tree is a top dollar store chain.
  • The company’s net sales increased in the second quarter by 3.9% and it currently operates over 15,100 stores in the US and Canada under the brands Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree Canada.
  • We compared Dollar Tree stores in Jersey City, New Jersey, and in the suburbs of Hollywood, Florida.
  • The difference was so stark, we could hardly believe the two stores were part of the same chain.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dollar stores are on the rise.

Dollar Tree is a leading dollar store chain that operates over 15,100 stores in the US and Canada under the brands Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree Canada.

The company, which is practically neck-and-neck with Dollar General in terms of store count and annual sales, had its same-store sales increase in the second quarter by 2.4%.

Read more: We compared shopping at Dollar Tree and Dollar General, and the first was so messy, we could barely move in the aisles

Unlike Dollar General, almost every item in Dollar Tree stores goes for $1. However, the company is testing adding more expensive merchandise to some stores to boost sales with its Dollar Tree Plus! initiative.

We visited Dollar Tree stores in a city in New Jersey and a suburb in Florida to compare the shopping experiences. The difference between the two stores we visited was so stark, we could hardly believe they were part of the same chain. Overall, the store in Hollywood, Florida was better for two key reasons: organization and cleanliness.

That’s for good reason, as dollar stores tend to cut back on store staff to keep prices low.

Here’s what we saw:

If you’re a Dollar Tree employee with a story to share, email sciment@businessinsider.com.


We walked a few minutes down a bustling Jersey City, New Jersey street until we reached the store.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The red brick exterior of the building looked promising, so we made our way into the store, ready to find some deals.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The interior was slightly underwhelming at first glance. The bright lighting and simple shelving structures were nothing special. Plus, the floor looked like it hadn’t been washed in a while.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

If that wasn’t enough, the disorganized display table at the front of the store made it clear we weren’t in for a high-end shopping experience.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Our first stop was at the Halloween section at the front of the store, where we found some spooky costumes and decorations.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

However, the scariest part of this section was by far the mess.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There were boxes and pieces of trash everywhere we looked. We even found an open can of Pepsi on one of the more chaotic shelves.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We quickly realized that this mess was not confined to one section. Everywhere we looked, there were piles of boxes sitting around unattended.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

On the whole, the store looked like it was in the middle of the unloading process, though it didn’t seem like there were so many employees on the floor to get it done.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Despite the mess, we continued shopping. The hardware and home improvement section had some great items that were surprisingly organized.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The party-goods section was scant, but if you weren’t craving variety, it got the job done.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We also stopped by the scented candle section in the back of the store and picked up an apple and vanilla-scented candle for $1.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We tried to continue through the store, but in some cases, the mess made it almost impossible to navigate.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We found a wall of boxes in almost every aisle we walked though.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Sometimes, we couldn’t even see over the mass of cardboard to the other side of the aisle.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

In some cases, the boxes were precariously placed in a way that made them look like they were ready to topple over any second.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Where there was no mess to be found, sometimes the shelves were almost completely empty.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

To be sure, there were parts of the store that were cleaner than others. This aisle of Halloween candy was one of the few aisles we enjoyed walking through.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We found a messier section of candy nearby, but we were thankful for all the name-brand products available for just $1.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We even picked up this bag of miniature Reese’s Cups.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We also found a 12-pack of plastic red party cups, which we also picked up for $1.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Dollar Tree’s biggest advantage was probably its wide variety of name-brand products available for just $1.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

But this store’s biggest disadvantage was the mess. The mess wasn’t simply an inconvenience — it distracted from the experience as a whole and pervaded every section, from freezer …

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

… to the checkout. This section probably had the worst mess we had encountered in the store.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Despite the mess, we left the Jersey City Dollar Tree happy with the purchases we had made.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Though we were pleased with the offerings overall, we wondered if the crazy mess we had seen was just to be expected from a Dollar Tree located on a busy street in New Jersey’s second-largest city.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Next, we traveled to the sunny city of Hollywood, Florida where we got to check out a Dollar Tree in a more suburban atmosphere.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The store was located in a strip mall near a large suburban Florida community. Just one look at the bright exterior made it clear we were in for a completely different shopping experience.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

This Dollar Tree was a breath of fresh air, thanks to the obvious organization and cleanliness that was apparent the moment we entered.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We found the same white display table at the front of the store, but it was nicely stocked with different seasonal items.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The Halloween section here was nothing like the disaster we had seen in Jersey City. The great selection and organized displays made this section spooky for all the right reasons.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There was also a similarly organized section of Christmas decorations.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Though this Dollar Tree carried a lot of same items and brands as the store in Jersey City, the difference in presentation and variety was astounding. There were a lot more options in the party-goods section …

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

… and most of the aisles looked as organized and clear as this one.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Like in Jersey City, there was a sizable greeting card section here …

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

… as well as a nice selection of scented candles.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The candy section here looked almost identical to the one we had seen in Jersey City.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We did find some unexpected offerings here, like this beautiful selection of fake flowers …

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

… and a charmingly decorated section devoted to supplies for teachers.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Nearby, we even found a deal for two-colored poster boards for $1.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The food section was set up so perfectly, that it was hard to find any item out of place.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We enjoyed perusing through these off-brand bottles of soda.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Though we did find some name-brand products as well.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Overall, we could not believe the difference in the level of organization between the two stores.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

To be sure, there were still messes to be found. But they were minimal and not nearly as distracting as the ones we had witnessed in the Jersey City Dollar Tree.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

And most of the time, the clutter was confined to a space or a corner.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

This Dollar Tree seemed to have it all. The store was organized and there were great offerings — like these cute wine glasses — for super low prices.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Walking through this Dollar Tree made us realize that we shouldn’t have to sacrifice store experience for value.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

However, an issue with this location was the checkout line, which was rather long for a Friday morning. We even overheard customers complaining to the cashiers about the line.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We left this Dollar Tree with a new mindset about dollar stores in general. If done right, they can be a great place to shop at a discount without having to suffer through a messy store.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The Florida Dollar Tree was the better experience by a long shot. But despite the mess in the Jersey City Dollar Tree, we’d still shop there if there were no other options nearby.

source
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider