Local business gives residents bang for their buck

The Falling $5, provides name-brand items at high mark-down prices


Summer Fitzgerald

The Falling $5, 1440 Sycamore Road, is a bin store full of miscellaneous items.

DeKALB — Every Saturday, over a dozen residents from the DeKalb community line up outside a storefront in the shopping center across from Hopkins Park, hoping to be the first to find the best deals the day has to offer. Every day feels like Black Friday at The Falling $5. 

The Falling $5, 1440 Sycamore Road, is a bin store open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. The store sells a myriad of products including name-brand clothing and appliances that many low-income shoppers wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

“Anything you can think of, it’s in the bins,” owner Eric Zeiter said. “That’s what people like. It’s a variety; it’s a treasure hunt. They come in and find good items for $5.”

Bin stores are typically discount retail stores where shoppers can buy unused products at low prices. At The Falling $5, the prices fall as the week goes on. All items in the bins are $5 on Wednesdays, $3 Thursdays, $1 Fridays and $5 again Saturdays as Zeiter restocks the store Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

The Falling $5 has bins full of thousands of items. Zeiter estimates he stocks up to 10,000 individual, random, high-quality items each week.

Zeiter said most of the products at The Falling $5 are overstock items that have never been purchased that are considered excess by retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy. The Falling $5 also resells products that were returned to stores, undelivered or considered undeliverable and can’t otherwise be sold by the original retailer. 

When Zeiter gets a pallet, he’ll make sure the items are in their packages, then he’ll tape them back up, or otherwise secure the containers and place them in the bins on the days he restocks.

Zeiter said The Falling $5 sees between 50 and 100 people each day the store is open. Many customers said they make a habit of visiting the store weekly. And with such a variety of unpredictable products week-to-week, customers never know what they might find.

Waterman resident Nicole Begne looks at an item she found at The Falling $5 (Kurt Bitting)

Waterman resident Nicole Begne said she’s been coming to The Falling $5 since the business opened initially in 2019.

“You can find all sorts of good things around here,” Begne said. “Even in, like, the jewelry boxes I’ve found pieces that are (worth) $50 to $60 originally, and it was in a mystery box I paid $35 for.”

The history of The Falling $5

The Falling $5 was originally located in Sycamore and opened in September of 2019. However, the store was forced to close in April of 2020 due to the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zeiter said. 

The Falling $5 reopened in its current DeKalb location in August, but Zeiter said business has been slow, and he’s waiting to see what happens with the pandemic before looking too far into the future.

Donna Grudecki, of Sycamore, said she used to go to the first store along with Begne. Grudecki said she goes to The Falling $5 every Friday and Saturday and that the deals she finds there are phenomenal.

“This place is the absolute best,” Grudecki said. “I did all my Christmas shopping here, and my children just absolutely loved it.”

The store today

There’s a section of miscellaneous discounted retail items like furniture and appliances from big box stores not included in the otherwise store-wide flat price. They also have mystery bags filled with 25 items for $10.

Zeiter is very active on the store’s Facebook page where he previews items he knows will be in high demand. 

The Falling $5 has an inspection area in the back half of the store where customers may have a store employee assist them with opening a package to view and test its contents. 

The store has signage in English and Spanish, so a wider range of community members can navigate and feel comfortable within the space.

Genoa resident Jake Nelson looks through a bin at The Falling $5 (Kurt Bitting)

Jake Nelson, of Genoa, said he’s purchased Skechers shoes, winter coats, children’s clothes and a variety of tools for his shop at the bin store. He said can always find that one random item he’s looking for at The Falling $5 at very affordable prices. 

“It’s a great place to go to get really good prices on pretty much anything,” Nelson said. “It saves me a lot of money; it’ll save the community a lot of money by shopping here.”

Zeiter said he’s been selling items like this online for about the past 15 years and claims to be one of the first to get into the bin store trend. 

Contributions to the community

Zeiter said this store is all for the community. The Falling $5 has even made donations of clothing and household appliances and conveniences to Barb City Manor, 680 Haish Blvd, a DeKalb retirement home.

“We bring good products and good prices to the local community to help them out,” Zeiter said. “Times are hard, and where (community members) can save money is good for them and good for me.”

Zeiter said he hopes to open at least two additional locations in Rockford and Elgin, but he said The Falling $5 will need more community support before that can happen.

“The community has embraced us like they did when we opened in September (of 2019), and we just enjoy bringing good deals for the community to help them out.”

Keep up to date with The Falling $5 by visiting their website, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. Contact them at 630-360-2372.