From "Hello Kitty" to all manner of superheroes, youngsters will be decked out from head to toe to backpack when it's time to head back to school.
Store manager Dan Laughlin said the Marietta Walmart store put out back-to-school supplies in early July and saw a big swarm of customers right away. Sales have backed off a little but he anticipates many procrastinators will come flooding back in, he said.
"The closer it gets (to the start of school), the more we see those people who have waited until the last minute," Laughlin said.
ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times
Andrea McMullen, a special education teacher at Emerson Elementary in Parkersburg, and her daughter Ashton Burrows, a seventh-grader at Jackson Junior High School, shop for school supplies at A-Z Learning Supplies, 18587 State Route 7 in Marietta on Thursday.
Area Walmart and Kmart stores work together with different boards of education and individual teachers to make supply lists available near the front of the store or close to the school supply area.
"Everything for back-to-school is on sale, from supplies to clothes," said Randy Hupp, manager of the Marietta Kmart. "We've really noticed that the Crayola items are selling well but there are a lot of popular (themes in) backpacks and everything."
Hupp said that many people have taken advantage of the store's layaway program, though he wouldn't say there was necessarily an increase from last year at this time.
- Glue sticks
- Ballpoint pens
- No. 2 pencils
- Colored pencils
- Pencil sharpener
- Large pink eraser
- Water-based markers
- Spiral-bound or composition notebook
- Three-ring binder
- Supply box or zippered bag
For a list of supplies needed by grade
- Area Kmart and Walmart stores.
- Marietta City Schools:
Harmar Elementary - www.mariettacityschools.k12.oh.us/about_us/hes.html
Phillips Elementary - www.mariettacityschools.k12.oh.us/about_us/phes.html
Putnam Elementary - www.mariettacityschools.k12.oh.us/about_us/pes.html
Washington Elementary - www.mariettacityschools.k12.oh.us/about_us/wes.html
Marietta Middle School - www.mariettacityschools.k12.oh.us/about_us/mms.html
- Wolf Creek Schools - www.wolfcreek.k12.oh.us
- Frontier Local - www.flsd.k12.oh.us
- Fort Frye - www.fortfrye.k12.oh.us
- Warren Local -
Barlow-Vincent Elementary - www.warrenlocal.k12.oh.us/barlow/schoolsupplies.htm
Little Hocking Elementary - www.warrenlocal.k12.oh.us/lhocking/schoolsupplies.htm
Warren Elementary - www.warrenlocal.k12.oh.us/warrene/WESupplyList11-12.pdf
- Belpre City Schools - www.belpre.k12.oh.us
- Williamstown Elementary - www.edline.net/ResourceList.page
Source: Times research
"I would say it's about the same," he said. "People are definitely using it, though."
The state of the economy does have many parents looking for deals and stores clamoring for their business.
Retailers, who generate more than 15 percent of their annual sales during back-to-school season - making it the second biggest shopping season behind Christmas - are aware of the challenges they face as a result of the economy and more parents being cautious about the money they spend.
According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $603.63 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics this year. That number is about the same as what households spent in 2010 - $606.40 - and up slightly from 2009's average of $548.72.
"Families aren't opposed to spending on what they need but parents want their children to take a good look around at what they already have before deciding what to buy for back-to-school this year," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Retailers understand consumers are extremely focused on value and are taking the opportunity to offer substantial savings on merchandise."
Parents aren't the only ones looking for good deals. With many cuts in school funding across the board, teachers are having to purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets.
A popular destination for many area teachers is A-Z Learning Supplies on Ohio 7 south of Marietta, near Bramblewood Heights. Owner Bobbi Davis said there is a misconception that her store is solely for educators.
"We have something for everyone," she said. "A lot of people think we're just for teachers but we have pretty much all the school supplies you could need."
Andrea McMullen, a special education teacher at Emerson Elementary in Parkersburg, was making her "annual pilgrimage" to A-Z Learning recently with her 12-year-old daughter Ashton Burrows, a student at Jackson Junior High School.
"This place is so much better than the chain stores, there is just so much here," McMullen said. "Every time I come, my daughter has to come with me. She loves it."
A-Z Learning Supplies has more than 5,000 square feet of educational items and also caters to homeschoolers. More information on the store can be found at www.a-zlearningsupplies.com.