Archive for August, 2009

That’s a Wrap

Ordering for the 2008/2009 school season is now closed.  We’d like to thank you for your business this year. We hope we helped make your summer a little more enjoyable.  Looking forward to servicing your school again for 2009/2010.

Supplies for Smaller Scholars Program

The beginning of a new school year is just around the corner, and while it can be a very exciting time for most, it can be hard for some kids.  Back to school means new clothes, new shoes and new supplies and not all kids have this advantage.  Best Tools for Schools wants to ensure that all kids have the proper tools to succeed in school.  That’s why we have our Supplies for Smaller Scholars Program.  Individuals and businesses can donate kits to kids in need by simply entering 00001 for a Junior Kit or 00002 for a Senior Kit on our home page under Enter Your Five Digit Code.  For more than one kit, simply click on Add Another Kit before proceeding to checkout.  For businesses who would like to donate more than 10 kits please contact us at 1-866-980-1133.

Kits are delivered to schools for September and school principals determine which children in their school are most in need.

Laurie and I would like to thank you in advance for helping every child get the most out of their education.

The results are in….

We wanted to know how we stacked up against the big boys, so we asked two popular “mommy” bloggers to help us out in a Back to School Shopping Challenge.  In order to keep an arms length from the process we asked them to go on our website and pick out any list they’d like, shop it out (comparing apples to apples wherever possible) and get back to us with the results.  The only payment they received was the reimbursement for the school supplies they bought.  The only thing crueler than making them shop these lists out would have been making them return everything.  We were thrilled with the results they came back with and would like to share them with you here.

Maureen Turner is a busy mom of three, who works in sports television and is a regular contributor to The Yummy Mummy Club.

Last year was my first experience with the back-to-school mayhem. I had just moved in with my now husband, and he has two school-aged children. Since my daughter was only 3 at the time, I was a back-to-school virgin. I headed to Wal-Mart, school supply lists in-hand. The week before, I had no idea those lists even existed.

I was not intimidated; I was excited. I love to shop… or I did before that experience.  Now I like to qualify that statement with I love to shop… for shoes, or I love to shop… for make-up. I do not love to shop for school supplies.

The seasonal department at Wal-Mart was crawling with moms doing the very same thing, Lists in hand, trying to find every item. The bins were half full, and only half of what was inside was what was labelled on the bin. Too many people had come before me and picked an item up and then placed it in another bin when they found a better deal. It was frustrating to say the least.

This year, my daughter will be joining the school-aged crowd, and I will have to head into battle again in hopes of filling the needs of not 2, but 3 school supply lists. God help me! So, when I heard about Best Tools for Schools, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Schools send their lists to Best Tools for Schools and they make packages that parents can buy with $4 dollars from every sale going to the school.

Sounded like heaven to me, so I emailed the principal at the school. I have yet to hear back from her, and school supply season is around the corner. I guess it’s back to Wal-Mart for me. I wondered if perhaps the Best Tools For Schools didn’t have the best prices for schools, so I did a little test. I printed off one of the lists that is closest to my grade 4′s needs, and I went out shopping.

Here is what I found: I had to go to 2 stores to get everything on the list. I started at the Superstore because I had groceries to do too (I am nothing if not a multi-tasker). I found only half of what I needed there and I finished the list at Wal-mart. The list often asked for an amount of an item in which you cannot purchase it. Eg. I needed 3 Latex/PVC free erasers, they are sold by 2, so I had to buy 4. Kids have to provide their own tissue paper. The teacher better not be using it! (Kidding)

The cost of the Best Tools For Schools package for that list was $42.28. I spent $64.44. Did I mention $4 dollars goes to the school? Schools are crazy not to use this resource. I think I will send this blog to the principal. I hope I don’t get a detention.

Rebecca Stanisic, is a mom to two young children and blogs for the popular website, A Little Bit of Momsense.

Total cost if I ordered it online: 127.45
Total cost by doing it myself: 126.89 (*plus $4 if I went back and got the right item instead of giving up!) so really: 130.89
Total time it took myself: 2 hours plus
total time if I had done it online: 5 minutes

amount of sanity I lost during the process: a lot

When I was asked to do the Best Tools for Schools challenge, I thought it was a perfect follow up to my original blog post about the website.  This way, I’d be able to see how much things would cost in comparison to doing it online, and how easily I’d be able to fulfil the list.  I went into the challenged with two biased opinions: 1- that I’d be able to get things cheaper 2-that Best Tools for Schools would be worth the extra dollars since it would save me time and headache.  I was right about one thing, wrong about another.  Read on to find out which was which…

First, a little preamble about the list:  I chose 2 lists from a local school for grade 1 and grade 4 which represents the age difference between my children.  I was amazed at the items on the list quite frankly.  It was long, and in addition to the Best Tools for Schools supplies, there were requests for bookbags, shoes, and for the grade 4 student, a portable USB drive.  These lists were longer than when I was in university!  My first thought was that they are ridiculous.  How is it that schools can ask for much of parents?  What about families that are barely able to provide food on the table? How do they spend hundreds of dollars to prepare for school?  That’s probably a whole blog post in itself, I digress.  Let me return to the task at hand.

Attempt 1:  I was doing errands anyway at Zellers so pulled into the parking lot at a Zellers that’s beside a Staples.  Perfect, I thought. I can get everything done, or at least a good chunk started.  I forgot the list.  Parent Fail #1. I’d have to try again.

After a busy week, I was approaching the requested deadline, which I was treating as the first day of school.  Fast forward 6 years and my delay in getting the kid’s school supplies will surely lead to whining, and proclaimations about me being the worst mother ever.  I was starting to stress.  This was pretend school and already it was stressing me out! Sure, I had left it to the last minute, but I bet you anything when ‘real’ school comes I’ll be doing that too! So this is quite the true reflection.  But this time, I had my lists.  I was set.  I had to get some other things anyway, so decided to start at the Superstore and then head to Staples.  I could have done Walmart, but quite frankly I avoid that place at much as I can. It was the weekend and I wasn’t prepared for the mess that I knew it would be.

Stop 1: Superstore.  I remember a time when school supplies were easy to find at Loblaws or Superstore.  Now, I wondered around aimlessly.  Finally, I found the small small section near the back.  I was able to get a few things off the lists.  There were the binders, but I figured I’d wait and get them at Staples thinking they’d be cheaper there.  The selection was minimal though and there were only a few things I could cross off the list.  I got the other things I needed and left.

Stop 2: I was off to Staples, which is really close to home anyway.  I go in and of course, there are aisles of school supplies ready to go and grouped.  A whole section for Crayola! Excellent, both lists had requests for pencil crayons, markers etc.  Oh crap.  What’s that? A pack of 10 Crayola ‘broad’ markers.  I had bought a pack of 8 at Superstore.  I franitcally checked the list.  Yup, supposed to be the pack of 10.  I thought forget it, what 2 colours could possibly be missing?! Will my kid be shunned if they don’t have magenta and teal?! Parent Fail#2 I started feeling a little guilty.  Remember, this is fake school!! Still, I was even more shocked to see the pack of 10 costs $4 more* than the pack of 8. Does that make any sense?

After going up and down each aisles about 3 times, randomly looking at the list, then at the aisles, adding stuff etc. I ran into a few snags:

-Couldn’t find options for lined paper and the packs they had were 150 per pack. I need 250, but I had been wondering the aisles for a while and was getting frustrated so I only got 1 pack. Oops.  Parent Fail #3.
-Each list asked for 3 specific erasers. They came in a pack of 2.  I had to get 3 packs to meet the list requirements since each list asked for 3.  Expensive!
-Do they not sell highlighters separately anymore?! I got a pack of four to meet the list.

I finally started to feel like I was coming to an end.  And by this point, I wanted it to be done. I looked at the list and realized that I hadn’t gotten the binders at Superstore.  No problem, there was an aisle dedicated to them.  Well, all of these were way more expensive!  Okay, no problem.  Worse case is I don’t have the binders for my report (or the kids ‘first day of school’ Parent Fail#4. Why was I feeling pretend guilt?!).  I would just take the amount into account for the report, since I took note of the price at Superstore, and I wasn’t prepared to pay over a dollar more for each one.  One last look at the lists and I was done.  I was missing kleenex and freezer bags.  I was supposed to get those at Superstore! ARGH. Okay, fine. I’ll make one more stop, get the binders while I’m there and be done.

Stop 3: I get the binders. I get the kleenex.   At this point I am hot and irritated that my kids are going to school tomorrow.  Oh wait, it’s all pretend! Man, I was getting worked up.  I get the freezer bags.  The best part? As I walk out of the aisle, I see a whole ‘seasonal’ row of school supplies on display.  Are you kidding me?! Where was this during stop number 1? I scan quickly in a furry, irritated that I hadn’t come across this sooner but see that I couldn’t have gotten everything on the list anyway.

Done.  Home I go. It’s been more than 2 hours.  I had to drive all over, return to one place and even then I still messed up.

On top of all of this, if there really was school coming, I’d have clothes to buy, indoor shoes, a combination lock, a USB stick, lunch bag and back packs all according to the list.  It costs a fortune!

Remember at the beginning when I said that I went into this experiment thinking it would cost me less but would save me time? The second part is absolutely true.  This took me over 2 hours.  It was stressful, and quite frankly annoying.  I have my own beef about why the list is so long and am truly concerned about how some families can afford this.  This is another reason why Best Tools for Schools is great.  They have a program where you can donate a box to a student in the classroom who otherwise may not be able to afford it, and 4$ from each box goes to the school.  My time is worth something, and spending it running around for all these specific supplies is ridiculous. Also, do you know how busy these stores will be leading into September?  Not my idea of a good time.

The other thing I assumed was that at least, if there was a saving grace in all of this, if I were to do it myself, I’d save some money. Guess what? That wasn’t even the case! It basically cost me the same as it would have if I sat in front of my computer, entered my credit card and press ‘purchase’.  How is that?! In many places I didn’t even buy the name brand.  Could I have found a way to save some money? Maybe.  But I’m not all that convinced. The closer we get to school, the more sales there are.  But my time is still worth more than saving 25 cents off of pencils isn’t it? I think so.  Besides, to maximize all the sales, you’d have to go to different stores as they hosted them.  I don’t think that would be very fun.

In conclusion, I have to say that having experienced the pain of running around trying to get all of these things for school is not fun.  It’s stressful.  A program like Best Tools for Schools is so brilliant for parents.  It doesn’t cost more than doing it yourself, and saves you all the difficulties associated with shopping for these supplies. I wasn’t even doing it for a real school year and yet I forgot the list, forgot items on the lists, got mad, had to go back and forth to different stores.  There has to be a better way.  Fortunately, there is with Best Tools for Schools.

The other thing I realized?  I do not want my children to be ready for school…;)

Rogers Daytime

Best Tools for Schools on Rogers Daytime on June 18th.

Rogers Daytime

‘A’ Channel

Best Tools for Schools on the ‘A’ Channel in Ottawa on June 8, 2009.    It’s very early in the morning, please excuse the luggage I brought with me under my eyes.

\’A\’ Channel Morning Show


Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!