3 Reasons Why Back to School Shopping is Not Your Friend

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The start of school is always guaranteed to be one of the worst few weeks of your year. Teen morale is so low during this time that it’s been known to actually hit the ocean floor, creating a number of minor but annoying tsunamis.

We all know why, don’t we? Waking up early. Doing homework. Losing freedom. The list goes on forever. Even worse, though, are the things that sneak up on you, like school pictures, new lockers, or back to school shopping.

Before we examine back to school shopping, it’s probably a good idea to define it first. This is important. 27% of all students think that back to school shopping is shopping that you do with your back facing towards the school. That is not correct, although it is an understandable misinterpretation. I know it’s obscure, but back to school shopping is actually shopping that you do when you are preparing to return to school for the year.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? That’s just normal shopping, right? Wrong.

The Deals

First of all, you’ve got the incredibly stressful back to school shopping sales. Every office supply place you know of has a back to school sale. Oftentimes every other store you know of is also having a back to school sale, including butchers, auto parts suppliers, and realtors.

You, as a smart consumer, will try to figure out which sale is the best. Finding the best sale is vital to your self-esteem, because having bragging rights of finding the best sale is better than achieving immortality. Plus, it’s better for your wallet, which means it’s better for your parents’ wallet.

But these sales are confusing. Office Depot might have a 6-pack of Ticonderoga pre-sharpened pencils marked down 60%, but Office Max has an 8-pack of Dixon pencils with extra-soft erasers on a buy-one-get-one-free sale. To complicate matters, your friends recommend Dixon, but Ticonderoga has emphasized its quality. Plus, the Ticonderoga pencils are .12 inch longer than the Dixon pencils. But the Dixon pencils have shiny blue foil while the Ticonderoga erasers are a dull green. But the Ticonderoga pencils are calling your name. But the Dixon pencils are singing your favorite song. But the Ticonderoga pencils are trying to shake your hand.

Pretty soon, you’ve got concerned salesmen swarming around you, asking you why you keep running in and out of their store to glance at their pencils. A nice salesman would offer you a towel to wipe up your sweat. They won’t do that.

If you’re not careful, one of them will point out the 12-pack of store-brand pencils that are 45% off. Then it starts again, and again, and again, for notebooks, folders, pens, scissors, even sticky notes. You will have done so much math calculating price-per-unit that you are guaranteed to fail your next math test.

The Navigation

American retail stores are really quite considerate, if you think about it. They understand that the average consumer wants to be able to quickly find what they need. So, the stores reorganize themselves every night after closing, to keep life interesting.

Usually, a major reorganization happens during back to school shopping. You’ll go to where the school supplies normally are, only to find a shelf of kitchen utensils that look like they are made for sculpting granite. You’ll go to the office chair section and find that it’s been taken over by construction paper.

Now, I’m not suggesting that they make the school supply area hard to find. Not at all. You’ll walk through those automatic doors and immediately break your nose on a makeshift cardboard shelf selling erasers. Then you’ll back up to your left and trip over a hand-sanitizer display. If you’re not careful, you’ll have to crawl your way out.

The People

The worst part of back to school shopping is the other shoppers. Most of the time, they’ll be moms or dads with elementary school kids. These are people to watch out for.

First of all, they speed around the store with a metal shopping cart and their head buried in their school supply list. If you value having intact hips, you’ll avoid these dangerous shopping cart drivers.

Secondly, they’ll grab what you need before you can get it, and it’ll turn out to be the last item of its kind. It doesn’t matter that it’s school supply shopping week; the store won’t be getting in another shipment until October 2016.

Most horribly, though, is that they will block the aisle. They will stand in front of every notebook in the store trying to find the one with the shark on the cover. You will try to go around them. They will move into your path because they need to search the next stack. You will to try to go around them the other way. Their kid will step in front of you. So you try to reach over the kid. The kid will violently sneeze on the notebook you were about to grab. You can’t win.

It doesn’t matter if you normally like to shop; school supply shopping is depressing, stressful, and horrible. There is only one thing that makes it worthwhile: the gum at the end of the checkout line.

If you’re more worried about your new school locker, you might want to check out “3 Ways to Break in Your New Locker,” published at this time last year. Want a personalized feel? Read on.

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