works for me as long as I can save a few bucks!
ahh Justin, would that were the case.. !
My shopping sprees in the US are few and far between, so I have to focus on #1) baggage weight, #2) desirablity/impossibility of finding item where I am in Italy and #3) ease of finding said item vs. its cost in USD (rather than everyday consumption concerns).
I carefully weigh the euro/dollar differential versus desirabliity versus my pain/expense of importation. Cracker Barrel cheddar is precious to me.
Some examples; Ramen noodles exist at my Italian supermarket, but at more than $1.25 apiece. The most average of US supermarkets sells them at maybe $0.15-0.20 apiece. Thus, I buy some to offset the heavier items like books and computer stuff that I cram my suitcases with on my too-infrequent overseas voyages, to keep myself under the (new, lower, terrorist- $$-influenced) baggage weight limits. Every so often I get a craving, and they are almost as cheap as newspaper stuffing in my bags. Likewise (believe it or not) with Kleenex, which cost 3+x the US price here. Or Zip-Locs, which are practically non-existent in Italy.. Boxes of Ziplocs make excellent cushioning for more $$$ items!
A US-purchased Mac mini (easily stashable) saves me a boatload; take any electronic device, multiply it by 1.2 (the Value-Added Tax) but then add 50-200% on top of that for no reason whatsoever. Bose Wave Radio in the US: $499; in Europe €698 ($927) . Ah, but that's a "US" product! Ok, let's take the Braun, German-made. coffeemaker (no auto-anything).. US price = $20. Italy price = almost $80 FOR THE IDENTICAL MODEL, and this is from a mfr. within the EU, so minimal transporation costs and NO tax differential. 'splain me why? There is no 'why'... that's just the way it is!
But I get free health care..
That doesn't mean that I don't get swept up into being "furbo" ("crafty") when it comes to assessing purchases!
My latest US hauls are solar garden lights and a three-station cordless phone system.
My experience in the Los Angeles "dollar stores" was that they were full of mis-guided 3rd-world-to-1st-world crapola. Like the stuff they show on Jay Leno that says "corkscrew", but it's a butter knife... Maybe there's a different strain of Dollar Stores where you guys are, but the ones I've been into in the last couple years are solely for yucks, with MAYBE the odd potential purchase.
I actually kind of feel sick when I realize the (not overwhelming, but still present) amount of focus I put on obtaining US goods at a steep discount to EU prices. How I would love to feel FREE to just buy the damn things here for 2-3x the price... E' piu' forte di me (it's stronger than I am)!
I guess that's part of why I am ER.