The 10 Best Things to Buy During Back to School Sales

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Best Things to Buy During Back to School Sales

You might think that the only things worth shopping for during back to school sales are the items that the teacher puts on those school supply lists. But it turns out, back to school sales are actually the perfect time to stock up on other household items, often at rock bottom prices. Here are the Best Things to Buy During Back to School Sales!

best things to buy during back to school sales

It’s usually right around the 4th of July (which just so happens to be the BEGINNING of summer break for many schools here in Southeast PA), when you enter the local big box or dollar store to find…. BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLIES. That’s right, the last bus has barely dropped off their last load of students and already store shelves are buckling under crayons, folders and highlighters! I almost always feel the need to ignore these supplies and carry on with the rest of my summer!

So wherever you are currently at in your summer break, this is worth a look.  EVEN IF SCHOOL JUST ENDED and what I am about to tell you makes some of you cover your ears and possibly want to throw #2 pencils at me.  Parents and teachers alike, trust me – it’s worth a listen.  Save some big-time money, avoid the crowds and the last-minute rush and ensure that your kid gets whatever character-laden backpack she has her heart set on for next school year.

Here’s the deal: June is truly the cusp of Back to School Supply Shopping Season for FOLLOWING school year.  It’s true.  Big box stores are already unloading pallet after ever-loving pallet of gluesticks, colored pencils and notebook filler paper in their stockrooms when most of us are trying to get to the last day of school  Most of these stores will wait until oh, July 5th, before they fill display after display in aisle after aisle with every school essential known to man.  (Though some years they don’t even wait until the July 4th fireworks before they stock the shelves.)

Plan to hit the stores EARLY in the season, even if it’s the last thing you want to think about right now.

Back to school deals in years past have been pretty amazing.  You can stock up during these sales to have all of the supplies you need for school, plus plenty of crayons for pinterest projects, gift basket items for teacher appreciation week and more.

Here are 10 things that are well-worth shopping early to stock up on during Back to School sales:

Best Things to Buy During Back to School Sales

Glue SticksWe all know how it starts… on the first day of school your kid starts out with 2 fresh and new glue sticks in his pencil box.  A month into school, those sticks are long gone and the price has shot up to quadruple what they cost in July.  Stock up on glue sticks during back to school sales.  Depending on the brand, you can find them for between $.10 – $.25 each.  I go crazy over glue stick sales.  Seriously.  I always buy at least 20 of them.  I use them, Lily uses them and in the middle of the school year when the September stockpile is a distant memory, I can donate a few to her classroom.

Glue Sticks Classroom Pack

Pencils, Pens and Markers Just like the glue sticks, we seem to start out with so many writing utensils.  But a pencil left here and a pen borrowed there all add up.  Load up on #2 pencils, colored pencils, pens and markers for pennies on the dollar – literally.  Pay an average of $.10 – $1 per pack for all of the above.

wholesale pencils Wholesale Markers

Crayons Much like my passion for $.10 glue sticks, I love a cheap box of Crayolas.  The lowest we usually see the 16 count Crayola Crayons go for is $.25 a box (though I’ve seen other brands go even cheaper).  STOCK UP on crayons – load your cart!  Crayons are a pencil box necessity but they go so much further than that.  Got a birthday party coming up?  I love to add coloring book or sticker book plus a fresh box of crayons to the gift bag.  Car trip, train trip, airplane trip in the near future?  Throw a new box of crayons with a coloring book from Target’s Dollar Spot in your travel bag.  Tackle a Pinterest crayon craft, stick some crayons in the kids’ Christmas stockings, donate some crayons to backpack or holiday drives.  CHEAP CRAYONS ROCK!


Backpacks and Lunch BoxesIt’s a no-brainer: back to school sales mean good deals on backpacks and lunch boxes.  If your child has her heart set on a Frozen backpack, you should plan to be at the store within a day or two of the backpacks going on the shelves.  It’s a simple issue of supply and demand – and the fact that stores placed their orders for backpacks months ago to ensure delivery in time for back to school shopping.  Restocks are pretty rare and usually when a certain design is gone, it’s gone.  Last year Lily wanted a Sofia the First backpack.  I waited until early August to head to the stores and never ended up finding one.  If your kid isn’t too particular, wait for the sale of your choice.  If they want one theme and one theme only, SHOP EARLY to avoid disappointment.

Lands End Backpack

Utility Bins/Storage Containers (totes) Back to school shopping also means that students heading off to college will be stocking up on all sorts of dorm room essentials.  College students tend to pack everything from laundry to household goods in those big multi-gallon storage totes.  But totes are fantastic storage options for EVERYONE!  We use them for anything and everything – storing baby clothes, seasonal decorations, toys, books.  Look for lower prices and a variety of colors and sizes on these containers at big box stores (ie Walmart and Target) during July and August.

sterilite 66 quart storage bins

Tissues/Clorox Wipes/Hand SanitizerAs you cruise through the crayon, marker and glue-filled aisles, look for all of those must-have germ fighters as well.  Pay bottom dollar for tissues (YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TISSUES!), Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or hand sanitizer.  Back to school sales seems to offer variety that you won’t find other times of the year… sizes (everything from giant to tiny containers and packs) and quantity (buy one or buy in bulk).  Just like everything else supply-wise, I like to stock up on a nice quantity of these products – both for home and to send in to school in the middle of the year when supplies are bleak.

Hand Sanitizer purell hand sanitizer wipes on shelf

Folders, Binder, NotebooksYou’ll be hard pressed to find folders and single subject notebooks for 10 cents during the regular school year.  Binders drop in price too and can be found from around 50 cents each (depending on size).  After rounding up the quantities outlined on your child’s back to school supply list, think about other times when these items would come in handy.  Notebooks make great travel journals and reading logs while folders and binders can help you organize everything and anything.

wholesale pocket folders

Bottled Water – July and August are the best months to buy school supplies.  This time of year also happens to be the height of vacation, camping and barbecue season.  Look for great sales on cases of bottled water and stock up when you find rock bottom prices.  You will be able to use them throughout the school year in lunches, after sports practice, etc.

Crystal Geyser Spring Water

Stocking Stuffers from Back to School Clearance – Are you the kind of shopper that shops all year long for holiday gifts?  I definitely am.  This allows me to spread out my spending and wait for the best prices and sales.  I’ll shop back to school sales to pick up random art supplies (cute notebooks, pencils, markers, etc) and use them for stocking stuffers come Christmastime. Back to School Clearance sales are also a great time to pick up coloring books and more at deeper discounts.  These make perfect additions to local toy donation bins.

Computers and PrintersRetailers often hold week after week of sales and other incentive deals on computers, printers and various peripherals.  Many times you can find Black-Friday-esque pricing on computers during these promotions, so whether your college student needs a laptop or you’re looking for a desktop that the whole family can use, the deals are definitely out there.  Make sure you find out if your state offers a tax free shopping week or weekend.  You can save even more by purchasing big ticket items like computers during that time period.

Have any Back to School shopping tips to add?  Leave a comment!


The 10 BEST Things to Buy During Back to School Sales

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6 thoughts on “The 10 Best Things to Buy During Back to School Sales”

  1. My advice, save even more by asking about discounts! Target has a 20% off your entire purchase for educators and it’s almost a month long. The same applies for college students.
    Not a teacher, I bet you know someone who is. Make a day of it. The same can be said for taking advantage of senior discounts as well. My grandmother always took myself and my summer best friend back to school shopping.


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