How much does that list of school supplies cost?

We did the homework, comparing prices at 4 stores

SAN ANTONIO – As Piper Romero will tell you, you need a rainbow of supplies for third grade -- watercolors, crayons, and a variety of folders.

“And, colorful markers,” she said.

But with inflation hitting families hard, we wanted to know where you could spend the least green.

We did some homework, taking NEISD’s list of classroom supplies for third graders to four popular stores to compare prices. We looked for name brands like Crayola, when specified. Otherwise, we shopped for the best deal available on the shelf. Because some things, like pencils or paper, were not always available in the exact specified quantity, we sometimes had to buy more than required.

We shopped Target, Walmart, H-E-B and Office Depot in the same North Side area on the same day. We also did not include the Kleenex tissues on the list.

Walmart and H-E-B had the lowest price on the greatest number of items. Office Depot was the priciest on almost everything. And, each store had the 24-pack Crayola crayons on sale for 50 cents. However, the day we shopped, the Crayola crayon bin at the Target location was empty.

To save money, take a few of our notes.

Buy store brands. For example, H-E-B’s sale price for six Elmer’s glue sticks was $1.62. But we could get their store brand for 75 cents for all six. Walmart offered the same prices, but there were no store-brand glue sticks available when and where we shopped. We couldn’t find a ruler, either.

Next, check online prices. At Office Depot, the five-inch pointed Westcott scissors cost $3.99. Online, however, we found a deal offering two pairs for $1.99.

Finally, sharpen your own pencils. At Target, two boxes of sharpened store-brand pencils cost $4.38. But, unsharpened, they’re $1.98, less than half the price.

Our final savings report card?

Our basket of supplies at Office Depot was $39.28

Walmart, H-E-B and Target were about half that and fairly close together.

Walmart’s basket was the least expensive at $17.42. H-E-B’s was just 72 cents more at $18.14. Target’s basket totaled $19.47.

H-E-B gets extra credit, though, for having everything in stock and easy to find when and where we shopped.

Families can stretch their dollars by shopping Friday through Sunday, the state’s tax holiday for back-to-school. Texans pay no sales tax on most clothing, shoes, backpacks and those lists of school supplies.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.