Dollar stores are great for a lot of things.

My spouse loves the dollar store. She primarily shops for party supplies for my kids' birthdays, graduations, school goodie bags, etc. It's tough to beat their prices on balloons, raffia, tissue paper, disposable cutlery, gift bag trinkets, and paper plates. Usually, my kids will pick out a cheap toy while they're there. I mean, it's only a dollar-ish (see below), right?

Dollar stores are hugely popular.

There are four Dollar Tree locations in Billings, all owned by Dollar Tree, Inc. The company also operates Family Dollar and combined there are over 16,000 stores in the United States with heavy concentrations in the South. In 2021, the chain finally raised its prices to $1.25 after 35 years of selling things for just a buck. Analysts and fans had mixed opinions on the move, but according to this CNN report, the company is thriving despite the 25-cent price hike on its low-cost goods.

Michael Foth, TSM
Michael Foth, TSM
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Did you know about Billings' other "dollar" store?

Tucked just east of Perkins off 20th Street West and King Ave, 123 Dollar & More has been open in Billings for about a year now. I finally got a chance to swing by today to check them out and to see how it compares to the other dollar stores in town. In the process, I met the store's congenial owner, Heather Stephens.

Michael Foth, TSM
Michael Foth, TSM
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100% local.

Stephens told me she's always loved dollar stores and thrift shops and was inspired to open her own after she basically got tired of being looked at as "just an employee" at her previous occupation. 123 Dollar & More is mostly dollar store items (Stephens said 30% of her inventory is priced at $1.00), and the remainder of the merchandise is marked at various value points. There is a small selection of thrift-store-type items, like clothing, tools, records, antiques, and various odds-and-ends. Check out these super cool Mid-Century Mod chairs I saw today on the floor.

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Michael Foth, TSM
Michael Foth, TSM
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Need helium? No problem.

Balloons have been a big dollar store item forever, but recently there has become a bit of a helium shortage. Some of your normal balloon places have reportedly been unable to find sources for the lighter-than-air gas. Stephens told me she's had no problem finding helium with her supplier. She offers a variety of latex and mylar balloons or you can even bring your own to get them filled at her shop.

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Canva
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Heather said she hasn't experienced any real supply chain issues while opening a new retail business at the tail-end of the COVID pandemic. She's still working on filling the empty spaces in the store with more pallets of inventory and is always adding new things. She said the support of the community has been positive and she's slowly been picking up a loyal clientele, thanks mostly to word of mouth. If you enjoy bargain shopping, pop by and check out 123 Dollar & More.

LOOK: Here are 25 ways you could start saving money today

These money-saving tips—from finding discounts to simple changes to your daily habits—can come in handy whether you have a specific savings goal, want to stash away cash for retirement, or just want to pinch pennies. It’s never too late to be more financially savvy. Read on to learn more about how you can start saving now. [From: 25 ways you could be saving money today]