I can think of two times a year I actually enjoy shopping. There’s “Black Friday”, of course, the day after Thanksgiving. I enjoy rummaging through all the ads in the paper, seeing what wonders of technology can be had for just the price of gas and waiting several hours in line. Thanksgiving in Illinois tends to fall in a rather gray time of year. The leaves have all blown off the trees. It’s cold, but feels colder because of the wind and damp. You can find me most Black Fridays snug in our bed under approximately eleven layers of blankets. Just knowing the sales are out there is quite enough for me.
The other time of year started this past Sunday. It generally starts near the end of July. It’s the hottest time of year and the sun doesn’t set until 9:00. However, the patio furniture at Target has already been pushed aside, CLEARANCE tags taped to everything. In its place are stacks of spiral notebooks, aisles of folders in every conceivable color, and glue sticks. Lots of glue sticks. It’s the beginning of the Back to School sales.
In this “paperless” age, I find I burn through more trees than I ever did when I was in school. I scanned the circulars this weekend and planned my trip carefully. There’s no point saving a dime when gas is $4 / gallon. My first stop was K-mart. Unlike Black Friday, the Back to School sales on supplies tend not to be major events. I had the store to myself except for a few sullen children being dragged around the store by their parents. I’m usually not a conspicuous consumer, but I grabbed enough notebook paper and pens to fill the cart.
Down the street is a Walgreen’s… like down every street in America these days. The bargains there are a little more challenging. I think they cater to an older crowd who stalk the store, matching coupons buried deep within the fliers to hidden gems on the shelves. It’s like a big treasure hunt. Still, I was prepared. I cut out my coupons beforehand and had them at the ready as I strode manfully down the aisles with a blue plastic basket on my arm. I grabbed the legal limit of legal pads and mechanical pencils. Poster board. There were five sheets left and I took them all. I don’t know what Daniel will be doing this year in school, but I’ll bet it involves poster board.
While a couple of (gasp!) regular priced bottles of soda threw off my average, I ended up waddling out to the car with five full bags of school supplies for slightly over nine dollars. That should last me through a season of Belvidere football and basketball, probably a couple of dozen full-blown installations of GoldMine and – of course – my blog for the next decade or so. It will also prepare me for the upcoming purchases for Meka and Daniel who actually are going back to school.