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Thursday, August 7, 2008

School supplies: cost or convenience?

For my friend, Rose, it's a game. But for me it's a chore. A chore I'd rather pay to have done.

Rose spent the summer scouring circulars for sales on school supplies and timing her visits to various stores. And, good for her, she won her game. By the first of August, she'd gotten everything she needed for her three sons' classrooms for $80 (not counting backpacks).

That's amazing.

I was excited that my children's school had a kit service. You simply order online a kit tailored to the teachers' list. Reasonable prices (though not like the ones Rose found), convenience, and 10% back to the school's PTO.

BUT. And it's a big but. The deadline to order was in early June. WHAT!?? We were still basking in the "School's Out" glow at that time! Why in the world would any scattered in-the-moment mom be thinking about "Back to School" in early June?!?

So I was quite pleased to get an email in July from a man at a local company asking me to review his company's kit supplies on All Thumbs. To give an idea of the quality of products his company offers, the man sent me a sample box of index cards, markers, notebooks and folders, worth roughly $25.

Since my kids' school had not created kits with, I had to instead pick and choose a la carte. So I printed out the lists, gathered items we already had, included a few applicable things from the sample pack, and figured out what I still needed to get.

Ten days ago I ordered the remaining supplies from from, and received my shipment (glue sticks, crayons, pencils, erasers, markers, white glue, etc) yesterday. Supplies alone were $24, not bad considering I didn't have to wrangle two kids into a hot car, drive while they sang two different songs simultaneously at the tops of their lungs, mediate an argument over who would push the shopping cart, and then negotiate over every. single. item, especially if said item had either Hannah Montana or Jack Sparrow on it with a jacked up price to go with the face.

I consider the $24 money well spent. And some of it goes back to the school. Some of it should go to my hair colorist, since I still DO have to supervise the sharpening of 50 pencils. I will have some Carménère on hand, for sure. (For me, of course.)

My only complaint with is the shipping fee. I really didn't order that much, but the base shipping fee is nearly $12 -- 50% of my order! For that, I might have made the drive to their warehouse 8 miles away. Because I am sure they have no shopping carts or stealth Disney messages.

I have already volunteered to set up for the school next year, after being told the school was unhappy with this year's kit provider. I will take each teacher's list and build the kits online. Parents can then simply order the kit. In June, July OR in August. And spread that shipping fee over more merchandise.

We may have spent more than Rose did on supplies, but it will even out with trips to the hair colorist, I'm sure.

Thumbs 85% up. And there's still time for you to order (unless your kids go back to school in mid-August, like mine do).

If this post just whets your appetite for talk of school supplies, go here for another, on school supply creep.

Have you entered the All Thumbs giveaway? Deadline is 8:08 am 8/08/08.


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2 chiming in:

Kaci said...

Not doing the school supply thing yet, but I think I'd love the convenience of a website that kitted them together. I love a good deal, but hate shopping! Thumbs up to you for volunteering to set it up for your school next year!

chicklet said...

Wow, you're so generous with your time, it's scary! And love the "chiming in":-)

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