Stock up on school (and office) supplies with back-to-school sales

By Julie Rains on 5 August 2007 (Updated 18 August 2007) 9 comments

You can start stocking up on school (and office) supplies now if you haven't already but be careful out there. Great deals are everywhere (including Target, Kmart, Staples, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Walgreens, and Toys R Us) but just buy the items you usually need and make sure you are getting a bargain as some items in the back-to-school aisles can be pricey.

What do you use a lot of during the year and what would you like to always have on hand, avoiding a time-wasting trip to the office-supply or discount store? And if you've got kids in school, what do they usually need? Best bargains for me and my family are spiral notebooks, filler paper, marble composition books, pencils, glue, portfolio folders, crayons, colored markers, and colored pencils.

Here are a few things I've learned in snapping up these bargains:

  • Crayola rules! I've bought other brands either during sales or at the dollar store but off-brand crayons tend to break easily. For school purposes, small packs (8-24 crayons) are best because too many choices can slow down a project and too many crayons can weigh down a book bag.
  • Most Staples' brands are fine but the ink pens, I avoid;
  • Portfolio folder prices and quality vary widely from under 10 cents to close to a dollar; check out the quality (thickness of the paper) before you buy and stock up if you can pay less than 20 cents or preferably 10 cents per folder;
  • Certain items are harder to find except during the back-to-school sales, such as English/Spanish dictionaries and book covers;
  • Usually you can get marble composition books (in 2-packs) at the dollar store all year long.

After you bring it all home, keep supplies organized and accessible so you can skip at least a few supply runs until next year.

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Myscha Theriault's picture

Hi Julie. As a former classroom teacher, I'm with you on the stock up thing. Parents always seemed to know they needed to start the school year with supplies, but often forgot that things needed to be restocked from time to time. Setting some aside for the kids to come back with after Christmas break is a good idea.

A favorite for me for the older children is colored pencils instead of crayons. They can really give a more grown up feel to classroom projects. Glue sticks also make a teacher's life much easier than the traditional glue. Not that you don't still need the traditional stuff from time to time, but for general quick projects, the sticks rule. Much less messy.

Guest's picture
Cheyrl

Staples had a good sale flyer in the paper yesterday, folders for 9 cents; pack of 10 pencils or pens, and pencil sharpeners for a nickel!!! Can't beat that!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for explaining the value of glue sticks. They are always on the supply lists but sometimes dry out quickly (I'm sure keeping the caps on when not is use helps!) though I can see the handiness of not having glue spilled on desks, floors, hands, etc.

Guest's picture
Deb C

I stock up on some school supplies such as Crayola crayons, markers and colored pencils, as well as glue sticks and scissors. Most of these things can be purchased for well under a dollar at back to school time. I give these to friends' children for birthday party gifts by putting them together with construction paper and whatever else I have on hand for a special "art kit." New crayons also make great stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Guest's picture
Lydia

Did you see the hot costumes that Party City’s putting out this Halloween?

They’re doing a sneak peek online fashion show today! Check out this website http://www.partycitydev.com/costumes/home.html

They’re also giving away discount coupons and a trip to Vegas!!

Guest's picture
Carrie Gunder

Hi,

I wanted to let you know that if you bring in certain brands of used ink cartridges to Staples, including HP, you get a $3 off certificate. You can use up to 3 of these in one transaction as long as the total amount before taxes exceeds the certificate amount. So, you can use it to get up to $9 off a new ink cartridge or off a bunch of those school supplies that are currently on sale. It's a great deal! I just got some plastic bins last week this way. Of course, there are certain rules, brands, how many in a day, so check their website. But it's a very good deal and you can hit up your friends and family for their ink cartridges too!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the ideas everyone.

Guest's picture
Guest

I haven't found any REAL good sales on School Supplies lately. If anyone has any updates, please post the comment here.

Any good sales in Staples or Wal-Mart will be appreciated, thanks!

Julie Rains's picture

Back-to-school sales seem to be spread out this year so instead of everything being on sale, just 1-2 items are. I did pick up some notebooks at Staples on sale last week -- there is a store very close to me and it's easy for me to stop by and check.