The Real Reason Some Items Cost A Penny At Dollar Tree

One of the things that makes Dollar Tree so successful is right there in its name. As it says on the Dollar Tree website, "Everything you need for every day, every holiday, every occasion... and every single item is only $1 (or less)!" 

The untold truth about Dollar Tree is a bit more complicated, however. Back in 2019, Dollar Tree began offering a variety of new items for more than one dollar, identifying the new items as Dollar TreePlus! merchandise and promoting them with the tagline, "More Choices, More Sizes, and More Savings," according to ConvenienceStore News. Of course, it's really no surprise to learn that not everything at any particular dollar store is sold for a dollar or less. It's long been the practice of dollar stores to offer some items for sale at higher prices, according to a 2012 story by Consumer Reports, which pointed out that only about 25 percent of Dollar General's inventory goes for one dollar or less. 

That being said, Dollar General also is known for offering some of its items for a penny, according to shopping advice website, Julie's Freebies.  So, too, is Dollar Tree, or so it would appear. But the real reason some items appear to cost a penny at Dollar Tree is something else entirely.

The price tag might say 'one penny' but you won't be paying a penny for it

In fact, you won't be allowed to pay for it at all. 

When an item at Dollar Tree has a price tag marked as a penny, that item is not really for sale at all, according to Redditor user UntraveledFlyer, who frequently posts in r/DollarTree as a Dollar Tree employee. Rather, the penny price tag is meant to signal to the cashier that the item is designated for non-sale. In other words, the item should have been pulled from the sales floor. 

"When it rings up as a penny, they can't sell it," UntraveledFlyer wrote in response to a comment by Redditor user DCM7734 about having been turned away by a Dollar Tree cashier when they attempted to purchase sports cards that were marked down to a penny. Indeed, the cashier told DCM7734 that "if something is marked down to a penny, they're supposed to refuse sale and destroy it."