May 29, 2012

Getting Ready for Back to School Sales

I know it seems kind of crazy to talk about back to school sales when school hasn't even let out for summer, but I'm already thinking about summer sales because I help our school's PTA buy supplies for the teachers. This is a huge deal for several reasons:

  • It saves the teachers money. Teachers in general don't make a lot, and our local public school teachers have actually taken pay cuts in the form of furloughs lately. And yet, dedicated teachers always spend their own money on classroom supplies and materials, especially now when the district is providing less and less.

  • It boosts morale.Because the teachers have been hit hard by the poor economy and budget cuts, presenting them with a stash of supplies before the start of the school year sends the message that they're appreciated and that the PTA and parents are there to work with them. It was great to see their smiles last fall as they picked up their bags of supplies.

  • It builds community. A supply drive is a great way to get parents involved with the PTA, gives parents a touchstone with the PTA during summer vacation, and even incoming kindergarten parents hear about the supply drive and start to become active. Also, as mentioned, the supply drive nurtures the relationship between parents and teachers.

This is the time of year to get wish lists from the teachers, some of whom may have very specific items (or brands) they'd like to receive. However, the following items have been on every wish list I've ever seen: tissue, baby wipes, band-aids, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. These are items that go on sale throughout the year, and I buy them whenever they hit my stock-up price.

Items that will be on sale during the summer include crayons, folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, and binders - basically, things that kids need for school. I've found that teachers like to receive things in sets - a set of 24-25 boxes of crayons, 24-25 of the same color folder, etc. It can be tricky to buy that many of one item with the limitations that stores put on loss leaders, but the sales tend to repeat during the summer so you can accumulate 20-30 of the same folder over the course of a few weeks. Also, teachers can show their ID at some stores (like Staples) to get increased limits on sale items.

Just like last year, I plan to publish a weekly list of the best back to school sale items at the various stores like Staples, Target, and Office Depot. Hopefully we'll be able to help the teachers get off to a great start!

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