Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oliver Stone's The Pencil Case

Toward the end of the school year, we received an email from the PTA: Would we like to have our incoming second grader's school supplies purchased by the PTA and delivered to our second grader in the classroom on the first day of school? If yes, please complete the form and submit it with payment of $45.

$45?! I looked at the list. Some markers, some colored pencils, a couple of glue sticks.... standard stuff. Surely not $45 worth of stuff.

To be honest, the cost wasn't even why I opted not to fill out the form. The real reason? I'm a sucker for supplies.

I loved back-to-school shopping as a kid. I loved deciding which lunchbox I would carry for that year (Scooby Doo! No... Jabber Jaw!). I loved selecting a binder-- I remember reveling in the high-tech-ness of the Trapper Keeper. And I really loved the pens. I could (and still can) test pen after pen, making beautiful rainbows on the "try me" paper.

Turns out my son was not quite as interested in the undertaking.

No biggie because Target makes it super easy. PTA list in hand, we cruised through the back-to-school section and picked up everything (minus some 3X3 lined post-its) in under 10 minutes for about $18.

$18 vs. $45. You can imagine how smug I felt.

A few days later I swung by Staples and found the lined 3x3 post-its that Target didn't carry. They came in packs of six. The list called for eight. Annoying. I bought two packs. Together they were around $10. Still smug.

But then... I happened to be at Target one day and noticed that Target (being awesome in a truly Target way) actually has copies of the local schools' lists available in the supplies section. I picked one up just to make sure I hadn't overlooked something.

What's this? A new parenthetical had been added to the list: eight pads of lined 3X3 post-its (NOT the pop-up kind).

Target still had no lined post-its whatsoever. And, wouldn't you know, the ones I had bought from Staples (the only lined 3X3 post-its they carry, mind you) were pop-up ones.

I had to order mine online. Even with free shipping they came out to $17.

Grand total (after I returned the "bad" post-its): $35. But when I add in the time-value of two trips to Staples and searching out the best online vendor I'm not sure I really saved $10.

I did pick up some great markers though.

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