Parents look for back-to-school bargains

CHICAGO Parents and caregivers looking for good prices on back-to-school stuff are in good company. More parents want to get the best for less, so they're looking elsewhere and planning ahead to take advantage of spectacular specials.

An OfficeMax spokesman says with the challenges facing all Americans they wanted to make some specials offers. The store is advertising back-to-school deals as low as a penny. First grader Giovanni will be ready for school with his penny ruler and folders, and dad is glad for the deal.

"We took advantage of it. It helped us out economically," said Rene Gallardo, parent.

Many parents will be looking for the bargains. The Associated Press finds:

  • 90 percent - will change the way they shop for back to school

  • 79 percent - will buy back to school items on sale

  • 53 percent - will use more store coupons

  • 46 percent - will shop at different, less expensive stores

    The folks at Dollarific are seeing more back-to-school sales.

    "If they look for characters, like Winnie the Pooh and Hannah Montana, it's cheaper here," said Joanna Bielak, Dollarific.

    The store offers items for a dollar and up. There may not be as large a selection of school items, but what they have is very competitively priced: five notebooks for a dollar, and a 64-pack of crayons for $1.59.

    "The school is providing less and the parents have to provide more, so we have to watch our pennies," said Bea McDonough, parent.

    At Once Upon a Child on the Northwest Side, items are gently used or new. The prices reflect the savings: girls' corduroy pants for $7.50, tween girls' pants for $4.50, a boys' winter jacket for $8.50.

    "Prices are anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent less than what you would get at retail," said Sharon Olson, Once Upon a Child.

    Fourth grader Stephanie is happy with her cute new back-to-school outfits. And mom is happy at check out.

    "We got a lot of stuff for great prices," said Joan Gubin, parent.

    Chicago Parent Magazine offers some advice:

  • like reuse stuff from last year - extra filler paper and folders,

  • swap stuff with other parents and check consignment shops,

  • and delay buying items - they suggest kids don't need all of their fall wardrobe on the first day of school.

    In a sign of the times, Once Upon a Child and its partner store for teens has seen sales up 15 percent this year. The stores buy clothes and toys. They say more people are selling items. That's up 18 percent this year.

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