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Parents save with back to school shopping
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Staples general manager Mark Olivero, left, helps Conni Springer find some of the items on her childrens school supply lists.

Safety scissors, spiral notebooks, glue sticks galore — the school supply list takes a little know-how. Between filling the list and the state of the economy, most parents have unique styles.

Depending on how large the household, expenses could be a concern for some parents, even during the annual sales tax holiday weekend, which ends at midnight tonight.

When it comes to penny-pinching, Conni Springer shops like a pro.

Springer was at Staples on Friday afternoon, jostling through three lists.

Before she went shopping, she compared the price of each item among several retailers and a dollar store, and bought the items accordingly.

“I went online and checked the circulars first and headed out,” said Springer, who moved to Forsyth County two weeks ago from New York.

The school supplies list, she also found online (

The last of her supplies, many of which ranged from $0.22 to $0.99, was the mini-stapler.

“I’m probably right at $50 (per list) right now,” Springer said. “You’ve just got to take your list and keep tally,” she said, adding that parents should leave their children at home for this trip.

Springer also advises creativity with plainer-looking, but less expensive supplies.

For instance, her son, Jaiden, wanted a Pokémon binder.

They wound up buying one with a clear plastic cover, so he could slide his Pokémon cards behind the cover.

“He couldn’t find it so he made it,” Springer said.

For some parents the convenience of shopping alternatives is invaluable.

Michele Weaver, for instance, doesn’t sweat the last-minute hustle and bustle, even as a mother of four.

“I do try to avoid the stores on the tax-free weekend,” she said. “That’s just me personally.”

Rather, for her three younger children, she ordered a “School Kidz” box the year before through the Johns Creek Elementary PTA.

The $50 box arrives with all the necessary supplies during the school’s open house, and parents pick them up.

Though it’s too late to order a box this school year, the service will be offered again next year through all the elementary schools’ PTAs or PTOs.

“It’s a teacher-tailored, school supply kit,” said Weaver. “It’s a great idea. I thin, ‘Gosh, why didn’t I think of that?’

“They tailor these kits specifically for each school. It’s a lot more convenient for me — who has so many kids to shop for — to have it all waiting there when we get to open house.”

Weaver does travel to “two or three different stores” to get everything for her son, Forde, who is entering sixth grade at South Forsyth Middle.

Mark Oliverio, Staples general manager, said customers should check the company’s Web site Sunday, because that’s when “new sales break.”

Peak shopping hours, in Oliverio’s experience, are usually right when school starts because each teacher has specific supplies that usually aren’t on the general list.

For instance, as the first day of school approaches, Staples will have penny and five-cent sales on items such as two-pocket folders. He added that with high gas prices, it’s best to travel for supplies as little as possible.

“A gallon of gas is $4. You’re going to want to go to one place,” he said.
“And yes, I’m a businessman. But I’m also a father.”

Michelle Melton, a Forsyth County extension agent, suggested that families buy in bulk and divide the supplies.

“It’s just about being a smart consumer and looking at the ads in the paper,” she said. Saving money, she added, shouldn’t just be a seasonal practice.

Parents can try other ways to save throughout the school year by either packing lunch for their children or themselves before work.

“Brown-bag it for one month and tally up your family’s savings, not to mention the health benefits. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Melton said.