School Supply Shopping and No New Markers, Lauren
Back to school supply shopping is one of my favorite hunting and gathering expeditions of the year. I am a marketer’s dream. I start stockpiling supplies as soon as the major box retailers put out their big displays. With four kids we accumulate a surplus of supplies on sale that from year to year and we have an abundance of color pencils, markers and unused construction paper. For the first time, we are no longer getting first dibs on cute pencil pouches, the kids don’t care. I announced to my kids in the aisle, “We have enough magic markers from last year, no new markers this year.” An exacerbated mother also shopping for school supplies addressed her daughter, “Hear that Lauren? You too have enough markers from last year, no we are not buying new markers.” Lauren rolled her eyes at me. (Sorry, Lauren). … For all of the Moms of Laurens out there, I feel that these popular retailers should be granted a liquor license during school supply season.
Buying Required Embroidered Uniforms Became an Experience, A Destination
This year, as the parent of a freshman high school student, we are required to purchase school approved embroidered uniforms. This article is not about the merits of school uniforms versus street clothes, but I go on record that I am opposed to uniforms for a host of reasons, but that is for another blog.
So, I marked my calendar for a specific date that I would take my growing son for his high school uniforms. He was not looking forward to this. I was trying to maximize both capturing a rare moment when he wasn’t rapidly growing combined with the store having a large selection in their inventory. I am good at logistics.
We went to Herman’s Discount School Uniforms in Baltimore City. Herman’s is the recommended retailer. I have never seen a store like this before. I was like a deer in headlights but guided by an expert staff. Each Baltimore school has a large section displaying their unique logo items. Rival schools are not in the same aisles. Parents, grandparents and alum, whether buying uniforms or not, had a lot of school pride throughout the store. The store owners are parents of a student at our high school, so the sample uniform and spirit wear on display in the store entry represents our school. My previous pencil pouch interest transcended into the high school swag. I tried on winter hats, in 95 degrees weather. I was pulling T shirts over my head. I negotiated if I needed the matching scarf with the school pride gloves, everything has the school logo. My son wanted to get in and out.
I mixed and mingled with the staff and the customers. It was an outing. My son just wanted a jogger jacket and the new custom polo shirts. We bought all of it. But while we negotiating on shirt sizing – he wanted clothes that fit, but like a seasoned mother without coupons, I was trying to buy items that will last for all four years of high school, that’s the financial planner in me.
I turned around and in addition to school uniforms, store inventory included: helium balloons, rugs, socks, toilet seat covers, curtains, baby needs, candy, batteries, and anything that you would find in a party store to a neighborhood hardware store and school uniforms.
Touring the Marvels of Herman’s
I was in awe. The owner took me on a tour. It was enlightening. We went upstairs and there were computers, spools of threads and sewing machines, embroidering all of the various Baltimore City schools’ gear. Hours are spent embroidering to keep up with the demand. I inquired about the store’s community charitable involvement, and the owner, while quite generous, was most humble. I felt great about spending my money here.
My son, somewhat mortified by my enthusiasm and excitement, in combination with teenage attitude, was waiting by the exit for me to leave while at the same time I was hoping to be hired for the holiday rush.
Farewell Magic Markers, Hello School Spirit Wear
So, this year, Lauren and I didn’t pick out new markers. I made new acquaintances in the uniform store. And, while Halloween is just weeks after the start of the school year, another big retailer extravaganza, I am happy that my daughter offered to be a Trash Bag as her costume. The money I save on her costume will be spent on new spirit wear at the uniform store. Farewell to new markers and hello to pom pom hats donning City Forever.