With school just around the corner (and already beginning in some parts of the country), sales on school supplies are in full swing. As a homeschooling mom, I buy a ton of school supplies to tie us over until the sales hit again next August. I always strive to get things at a good price, but I don’t like to run from store to store looking for everything. After all, my time (and gas budget) is worth something, right?
A couple of weeks ago Walmart gave a few of the Walmart Moms a mission, and I chose to accept it. The assignment: Take a school supply list of my choice and buy the supplies at Walmart and another store of my choice to see who has the better overall prices.
To keep the assignment authentic, yet relevant to most of my readers, who have public schooled students, I went to our local school district website and grabbed the supply lists for my children’s grades. Even though we homeschool now, we use most traditional school supplies. If I end up not needing something, I’ll donate it to the school.
I took a look at the supply lists and added a few things that I knew I needed for homeschooling. Here’s the list I took shopping:
7th Grade School Supply List
- 1” white binder with plastic overlay
- Pencil Pouch
- 2 fine tip dry erase markers
- Notebook paper
- Calculator (specifically Texas Instruments TI 30X IIS)
- #2 Pencils
- Glue Stick
- Spiral Notebooks (2)
- Pens (blue, black, and red)
- Ruler (metric/inches)
- Colored Pencils
- Composition Book
- Compass (added by me)
- Pencil Sharpener (added by me)
- Clipboard (added by me)
2nd Grade School Supply List
- 1 pair Fiskars scissors
- 4 dry erase pens
- 1 small pencil box
- 8 glue sticks
- 1 package baby wipes
- 2 boxes Kleenex
- 1 box Crayola Crayons (16 ct.) – I changed to 24 count, because they’re less expensive…I always wonder why they ask for 16 count.
- 2 spiral notebooks (wide ruled)
- 2 dozen Ticonderoga pencils
- 3 pocket folders
- 1 ruler (metric/inches)
- 1 ream white copy paper
- 2 pink pearl erasers (I changed this to white erasers, because I like them better)
- Construction paper (added by me)
- water colors (added by me)
- rubber cement (added by me)
- clipboard (added by me)
My Shopping Methodology
I needed to decide on a store besides Walmart to shop. I settled on Fred Meyer (a Kroger store), as I shop there a lot, and I was confident Fred Meyer would have everything on my list.
I wanted to compare prices, but I also wanted to shop authentically, and the fact is, I don’t always buy the lowest priced item. I decided to shop the way I would normally shop. Some brands I had to buy, because they were specified on the school supply list (such as Ticonderoga pencils). Other items I’m just picky about (buying Crayola vs. Roseart, for example), so I bought my preferred brand. And some items don’t really matter to me (folders, paper, notebooks, etc). For those items, I went for the cheapest option possible.
Here’s how it went.
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At the end of the day, I spent $71.88 at Walmart (the Medford store, for you locals) at $88.95 at Fred Meyer (the North Medford store). I was mostly able to find the same brands at both stores, but there were a few discrepancies.
- I got 3 extra erasers at Walmart, because it was cheapest to buy a 6 pack.
- I got 48 more sheets of construction paper at Walmart, because I bought the cheapest package of construction paper at both stores, and the Walmart package was 88 sheets, while the Fred Meyer package was 40 sheets.
- The Walmart baby wipes package had 8 more wipes than the Fred Meyer package. I bought the cheapest at both stores.
- I got a metal compass at Walmart and a plastic compass at Fred Meyer, because that’s what was available.
- I got 6 more glue sticks at Fred Meyer, because the cheapest way to get the amount I needed was to buy 2 eight packs (buy one, get one free). I also had to buy Avery brand glue sticks at Fred Meyer, rather than Elmer’s, which I prefer. Elmer’s was available, but it would have cost a lot more to buy it.
- I got two extra dry erase markers at Fred Meyer, because it was less expensive to buy a 10 pack than two 8 packs.
- I got one more highlighter at Fred Meyer, because the cheapest package was a 6 pack. At Walmart it was a 5 pack.
After all that shopping, I’m not going to need school supplies for a long while! I still love both stores, but in the battle of the school supply prices, Walmart has the advantage over Fred Meyer.
*Disclosure: I am a participant in the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation to perform the above shopping comparison. Participation in this program is voluntary. All opinions are my own, always have been, always will be.