Where To Shop For School Supplies

Shopping for school supplies can take you to many stores and retailers in search of the best deal. Here are some places to check.

Just before school begins in the fall, parents and students make a mad dash to the many stores advertising special sales on needed school supplies. Eraser, pens, notebook paper, and binders magically appear on the shelves of pharmacies, discount stores, supermarkets, and office supply retailers. So where should you go to purchase these things?

1. Find out if your elementary school, high school, or college distributes a recommended list of supplies. If so, it also may suggest one or more stores that sell them. You can ask the school secretary or college instructor if you're not sure where to shop. The school also may sponsor its own campus store where you can purchase needed items. These often provide discounts to students, so find out before shopping elsewhere.

2. Browse the local dollar stores. While some shops offer a limited selection of school supplies, you can often find most of the basics, such as notebook paper and pencils, for a dollar or less, and pick up the other items elsewhere. Check newspaper ads or pop in when you have a few minutes to see what's available. You may even want to get duplicates of things you'll run out of soon, like paper or erasers.

3. Check out timely offerings at the pharmacy or drugstore. When picking up a prescription, look around to see if school supplies are on sale. Many times you can get something you forgot to purchase elsewhere or a sale item at a good price. The convenience may be worth paying a few cents more for if the cost is slightly higher. Look for special displays or promotions.

4. Visit the national department store chains. Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target always promote good deals on school supplies in late summer. Watch for mail circulars or newspaper ads, or stop in when you pass one of these stores to take advantage of the promotional items that are sure to be on sale.

5. Stop by an office supply retailer. Look at the display sale items or ask about back-to-school deals that are likely to be featured just before classes convene in the fall. In addition to the usual supplies, you may be able to get a good price on additional items like staplers, scissors, or file folders. If they're not on sale when you visit, ask a sales assistant if the things you're looking for are expected to be discounted in the next few weeks.

6. Shop at the supermarket. While your primary goal may be groceries, many stores carry at least a few school supplies in August or September as well. The prices are apt to be competitive if not the absolute lowest in your area, so it may be easier to add a few school items to the grocery cart instead of shopping separately for these things later.

Aim to get most needed supplies in one trip to save gas money and time. But if you can't, watch for the remaining items in other locations where you shop.

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