The weather may not be getting much cooler as of late, but believe or not, the summer is drawing to a close.
How can you tell? Simple: back-to-school sales have officially begun, and parents, lists in hand, are officially on the lookout for the best deals and selections in town. Unlike the seasons' methodical consistency, however, shopping for school supplies has evolved into quite the frantic and super-specific exercise over the years.
Even in an age of Walmart®-sized Staples and Office Depots, smaller more local stores have gotten in on the supplies rush, including neighborhood locations Value Drugs and in Eastchester, which both carry folders, notebooks, markers, pens, Post-it® brand notes, glue sticks and more. These aren’t your parents’ notebooks and crayons, however; more than ever, supply lists are incredibly specific – down to the brand name.
“Some teachers want certain colored-notebooks, some ask for wooden rulers, some say no metal rulers,” said Will Humphrey, employee at Value Drugs in Eastchester. "And remember number two pencils? Now they want kids to have (Dixon) Ticonderoga® Pencils."
In addition to broadly stocking whatever students require, Value Drugs also puts together and delivers pre-assembled supply packs to students at local schools. Between the company’s seven locations – which includes Bronxville, Briarcliff, Brewster, New York City, Greenlawn and Huntington – Value Drugs will assemble and sell 5,000 custom-made school packs for the 2011-2012 term.
“Kids will see them on their desks the first day of school,” Humphrey said. “We decided about 10 or 12 years ago to order this way. It’s going the extra mile for our customers.”
The Bronxville Schools is one of many districts that partnered with Value Drugs to offer online shopping this year. For parents who either missed the late June deadline for ordering or prefer the old-fashioned way, no need to worry, the store’s doors are always open.
“We stock everything in the store in case kids want to buy (supplies) themselves,” Humphrey said. “And if they lose something like a notebook or a calculator, they can come in and get it here.”
For Maria Cocucci, Public Relations and Communications Co-Chair for the Tuckahoe PTA, the at-your-fingertips service provided by companies like Value Drugs is a huge time-saver.
“I used to always scramble at the last minute to get supplies, but I find this so convenient,” Cocucci said. “The kids have everything read on the first day of school.”
Cocucci – who along with the rest of the PTA handles all of the online orders in the month of June – used the method to purchase all the school supplies for her daughter Adriana, who starts sixth grade at Immaculate Conception School, and son Marc, a fifth-grader at William E. Cottle Elementary School. Her daughter Daniela, however, who will enter the 10th grade at Tuckahoe High School this fall, will learn what she needs during her first day of class.
Local CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens locations in Bronxville and Eastchester have also been advertising back-to-school specials and offering coupons - a welcome benefit for parents faced with extensive and often times pricey teacher lists. The type of scientific calculators required for seventh grade, for example, can be priced anywhere from $9.99 to $45, depending upon where it’s sold and product details.
For local resident and mother of two teenagers Diane Iacobelli Court, the issue is not so much the price tag at the end of the supply list as it is the uncertainty of what will be on that list and the short time frame she will have to find a store that holds it.
“Hopefully the stores have everything,” she said. “It gets crazy because we have to go (shopping) most of the time that same night so they have it for class the next day, and everyone is here shopping.”