A Back-to-School Expedition

“Everybody in the mini-van. You snooze you lose!”
Three kids, two parents and the Elephant in the Room…Back-to-School shopping.
What to do? What to do?
The eldest, a daughter, is in the first year of High School; the two boys are in Middle School and Grade 5 respectively. Each is clutching a list of school supplies that must be procured before Day One of the 2014−15 school year which is right around the corner. Although not on paper, each also carries in mind another, more exclusive list of supplies on their wish list and Mom and Dad will try to sort their way out of this without breaking the bank or blowing the family credit cards to kingdom come.
And now the catch; unlike Christmas shopping where the kids ask for things they want, here a single word changes and produces a gigantic paradigm shift: substitute “need” for “want” and you understand the angst parents and their offspring go through during the Back-to-School shopping season.
The wish list will include new school clothes (an adventure in itself), electronics (tablets, laptops, sneak in a smartphone here or there, electronic calculators−quite expensive the higher up in Grade a student may be) backpacks−also a fashion statement and sundries. And of course there’s the basics like pens, pencils, various kinds of notebooks, workbooks, binders, graph paper, gym clothes, combination locks and everything to ensure that the student is ready to go the moment the teachers are.
Two-vehicle families will sometimes split up, as Mom will take eldest daughter clothes shopping, something which would bore the two boys to distraction, while the male members of the family head to Staples for all of the other stuff. And somewhere−usually after a quick rendez-vous at a fast food emporium where the family gathers in mid-shopping−Mom and Dad will compare notes while the offspring refuel, and then Mom takes the boys clothes shopping−a bit more utilitarian exercise−while Dad and Daughter return to Staples for all the rest.
“Planning is huge in a multi-child family and if you have more than one vehicle, it is wise to use both of them,” says Elena Delli Pizzi, category manager at Staples Canada. “But before anyone turns on the ignition on either vehicle, make sure that you have planned where you’re going and what your basic budget will be−and that includes electronics. Today, very few kids go to school without a computer of some sort. In some cases, the schools provide them and charge the parents for them; in many other cases, the schools recommend tablets or laptops and suggest where parents can procure them at a decent price.
“We spend all of what we call the off-season, which means when it’s not back-to-school time, scouring manufacturers all over the world to procure products at the best price for the people who will come to us in July, August and September. Save yourself some time when you enter one of our stores; grab a cart or two and track down one of our salespersons; they’ll help you find everything and at your price point.”

By Adam

August 16, 2014