Last Updated on July 9, 2023
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I work in a job (education) where having pencils on hand is a must. Even in a world where most things are done through technology, there are some things that are either best on paper or have to be done on paper. Unfortunately, the people I serve don’t always have pencils. Worse still, they sometimes walk off with them, leaving me with a dwindling pencil stash.
Inevitably, I run out of pencils, and my place of employment doesn’t stock them as diligently as I would like. That leaves the business of getting replacements up to me, sometimes at less-than-convenient times. I could go to an office supply store, but they’re out of the way and aren’t always as cheap as I’d like. I could also go to a big box store, but getting in and out of one of those is an ordeal.
Moments like this is when a dollar store can shine. They’re usually a breeze to get in and out of, and they usually host an office supply section. So when I recently found myself needing to pick up some pencils, I diverted to my nearest Dollar General, which sells office supplies under its iMagine private label.
iMagine pencils are a Dollar General exclusive and come in two varieties: yellow pencils and mechanical pencils. Both are $1 each. I bought a pack of 18 iMagine Yellow Pencils (6 cents a pencil) and a pack of 7 iMagine Mechanical Pencils (14 cents a pencil). You can do a little better at Walmart for wood pencils (4 cents a pencil) that are even presharpened, but you have to buy more to get them — and of course you have to get through Walmart. Walmart mechanical pencils are about the same cost per pencil as iMagine ones, even if you do buy more. Overall, DG is at least competitive on price.
iMagine Yellow Pencils
iMagine Yellow Pencils are your traditional wood pencils. The packaging says they are a product of Vietnam. They have HB #2 printed on them, which indicate that they are your standard No. 2 pencil, suitable for most everyday uses, including tests that require a No. 2 pencil.
They come unsharpened — a small hassle but not surprising given the price. They sharpen fairly easily, though.
Once sharpened, they work about like a typical wood pencil. I’m not sure if they quite have the solidness of a more expensive pencil (i.e. Ticonderoga pencils feel very stable when you write with them), but unless you’re a real pencil nerd you’re probably not going to notice a huge difference. They write fine, and the eraser works better than some of the cheap pencils I’ve had the misfortune of buying from other places.
iMagine Mechanical Pencils
The mechanical pencils come in a plastic package. According to the package, they are made in China. They are No. 2 pencils with 0.7mm lead.
These pencils have the advantage of convenience. They operate by clicking the eraser end, just like other mechanical pencils. The mechanism is easy to use and reliable, and the pencil works about on par with other mechanical pencils I’ve used before, even brand name ones. The eraser does the trick, too.
Dollar General offers budget pencils, and for the most part they work fine. The wood pencils, while not the cheapest out there, are still pretty cheap and they sharpen and work like you’d want them to. The mechanical pencils are as cheap as the Walmart ones I’ve seen and are also easy to use. If you need a quick pencil supply for your office, DG delivers.