It was Memorial Day, then I blinked and it was Back To School Day.
Not the official day classes begin (in the metro-east that seems to be Aug. 17 or 18). No, it’s the day when Mom and Dad grab the kids and the list of school supplies and head out to retailers to cram shopping carts with everything from pencils and notebooks to Star Wars backpacks and Hello Kitty! lunch kits.
Plus, there are shoes, clothes, even small appliances for the college-bound, as well as tech accessories on lists.
“I had to buy ear buds and flash drives. It’s required for older kids,” said Carrie Beshoar, of Red Bud, of buying supplies for her 13-year-old Anna. Carrie was shopping in Target in west Belleville this week with her two younger daughters, fourth-grader Mia, 9, and preschooler Tessa, 4. Both girls snagged just the right backpacks to start the new school year.
“Mine has a hood!” said Mia, surprising her mom, who checked it out.
“Well, that will be good for when it rains,” she said, grinning. Carrie added that she’s cost-conscious and each backpack was less than $20.
Backpacks are a popular way to show some personality when schools require students to wear uniforms. Lillian Brian, of Belleville, was picking up $5 polo shirts (in red, white and forest green) from Target for her two grade-school grandchildren, who live in St. Louis.
“They spent their summer money on new backpacks, so Grandma buys the necessities,” she said with a laugh. “I saw (the shirts) here and thought I better get them now. I know their mom said they wear them out and get washed a lot, so they’ll need extras.”
Amber Reynolds, of Smithton, had a shopping cart full of colorful clothes to suit the personalities of her two daughters, second-grader Annabelle, 7, and fourth-grader Allyson, 9. Her mom, Gail Lindauer, also of Smithton, was along to help out at Target.
“Leggings are really popular,” said Amber, pointing to pairs for both girls.
But if you want to see a major selection of vivid colors and patterns, head to Justice at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights. Two tables are dedicated to girls’ leggings, with everyday ones for $16, as well as athletic ones for $18.
Five Below in Fairview Heights is another favorite store to pick up inexpensive supplies, though not quite everything college student Anna Fishbein, 19, of Millstadt needed. She’ll be a sophomore at Illinois State University studying business.
“I’ve got Tupperware and a shower caddy, notebooks, pens, folders,” she said, wheeling a cart through the aisles. “Who knew you needed Tupperware?”
Mom Mona Fishbein smiled. It’s important to store leftovers.
The biggest ticket item purchased so far: a dorm-size refrigerator.
“Last year I could rent one, but I have to buy one this year.” She and her roommate are splitting the purchases. “She’s bringing a futon.”
High school students also will find a good supply of I.D. lanyards for a dollar each at Five Below.
At Walmart in Waterloo, Karen Strand, 20, was looking for warm indoor footwear. She’ll be a junior at the University of Illinois and sharing a house with eight other girls for the first time.
“My feet are always freezing in the winter so I’m taking stuff with me now,” she said, picking out faux Uggs for under $13 each. “Now, I just have to make sure nobody ‘borrows’ them after I move in.”
Parents who need to buy shoes for girls and boys should check out the sales at Walmart, with sneakers as low as $9 on sale.
For the guys, American Eagle Outfitters at the mall has the classics, from denim jean jackets to knit striped Baja hoodies, each $69.95.
At DSW, the shoe “wearhouse” in Fairview Heights across from the mall, hot fashion item ankle boots, also called Chelsea booties, are well-represented. Along with leggings, they are at the top of the to-buy list for fall. Leather styles have low, Western or wedge heels that lace up, slip or zip on. Details include buckles, fringe and straps. Discounted prices start at about $45.
A local business, Karen’s Kreations, has a special back-to-school offer: Handmade backpack tags for $3.74, regularly $4.99. Check out the website, www.karensglabels.com for ideas. I liked the tags made for Wolf Branch School in Swansea with the mascot and team logos. If you need help, feel free to call 618-257-1365.