BEST DOLLAR STORE (1999)
Although the inventory changes from week to week, this branch is more consistently stocked with practical items than its toy-filled cousins. Big Dollar always has lots of candles, dishrags, baking tins, picnic supplies, kitchen accessories, Tupperware look-alikes, toiletries, art materials, and cleaning agents. Sure, you'll get the sweetest deals on knockoffs like Fabulous (instead of Fantastik), but you can also lay hands on the tried-and-true products Madison Avenue has sold for years, and at better bargains, generally, than anywhere else in town. This link in the chain claims bragging rights in the hardware and tool departments--nails, picture hangers, sturdy pliers, hammers, wire cutters, and the like. Everything in the entire store costs, you guessed it, one dollar (kick in another seven cents for Uncle Sam). If you're bummed that the stock tends more toward the useful and less toward the wacky than others of its stripe, take heart: This is still a dollar store, which means that they do offer candy and snacks, occasional hummingbird feeders, odd dog toys, and, near the door, that incense with the ridiculously erotic nudie pictures on the package.