Reporter goes on the prowl for prongless poly-pocket folders
Shopping for school supplies is a rite of passage for parents.
Mothers kneel on the floors of stores, pawing through bins for the correct-colored notebooks.
Fathers urge daughters to quickly choose between "Frozen" or "Dora the Explorer" backpacks.
Strangers commiserate as they hunt.
I, a childless outsider, entered the fray, shopping online for items required of the average fourth-grader at Willow Bend Elementary School in Palatine and a typical kindergartner at Western Avenue Elementary School in Geneva.
Would it take all day? Would I be able to find everything in one stop?
For the fourth-grader, it took me 52 minutes to load my shopping cart at officedepot.com.
A 120-sheet pack of wide-ruled loose-leaf paper? The choices are 110 sheets or 150 sheets. (I went with the 150).
There weren't any yellow notebooks or Ziploc bags in anything close to the desired counts. Or the right brand of pencil box.
The $4.49 8-pack of paper folders didn't have all the colors I needed, and the plastic ones cost $1.49 each. The online store was out of single low-odor black dry-erase markers.
With tax, the bill came to $119.81, for 111 of the 115 items requested (including 60 pencils).
Finding the two 24-count packs of Crayola crayons was easy at Wal-Mart. They were right by the entrance. At 50 cents a pack, they were a bargain.
But "Crayola Thick & Thin Markers"?
I searched the three-aisle display of school supplies for such a combination pack. Then I headed back to "office supplies." Then back to the school display. Then it dawned on me the school probably meant one pack of regular markers and one pack of thin-tipped markers.
I despaired of ever finding the prongless poly folders. Pronged, pronged, pronged, pronged, pronged read the boxes. Finally found them in the office supplies area.
Watercolors: Size not specified. Eight- or 16-color palette? Feeling generous, I went with 16.
Four large Elmer's glue sticks. Two problems:
1. No packages marked "Large."
2. "JUMBO" came only in three-packs.
Ziploc heavy-duty gallon-size bags: No count. Does "heavy-duty" mean "freezer?"
Two containers of Clorox or Lysol wipes. Again: What count?
Dry-erase markers: Broad-tipped wanted. I'm hoping they really meant chisel-tipped.
Facial tissue: Has to be a rectangular box. Huh?
It took 45 minutes and $56 to outfit the imaginary kindergartner.