Back-to-Shopping school

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

I'm sometimes shocked to learn that people hate shopping.

My friend Lisa, for example, can't stand it. Yet she enjoys washing dishes. ("It's like therapy," she says. Ironically, I say the same about buying boots.)

Nonetheless, even the Lisas of the world venture out this time of year for the traditional back-to-school shopping trek. (Cue the hallelujahs from all parents whose kids wear uniforms.)

In the end, for shopaholics and shopaphobes alike, back-to-school shopping boils down to the same thing that most situations do: getting the most bang for your buck. Here are my tips for doing just that:

1. Reorganize your children's closets. Figure out what still fits. Give away or hand down what doesn't. Make sure you're not buying new jeans if they already have a pair stuffed under the bed that work.

2. Three's a charm. Three basic bottoms will go a long way: one pair of jeans, one pair of khakis and one pair of khaki shorts or a neutral skirt.

3. If your children are old enough to crave a particular brand, buy them a top or two made by that brand, and then make it count. In other words, if they want Abercrombie & Fitch, go to the sale rack, find a couple tees for $15 (yes, you can find them), and make sure they clearly say A&F. The tees can be worn alone while it's still warm out, and then layered beneath button-up shirts or zip-up hoodies (or both) when it's cold.

4. Layer up. Buy one thin layering top and one thick one. (Those that button or zip are best so kids can easily put on and take off as needed.) For the thin layer, a long-sleeved, cotton button-up top works great (try cuffing the sleeves). For the thick layer, a hoodie is perfect - and can also serve as a jacket during fall.

5. Bargain shop before you leave the house. You know what stores you like, so sign up to be on their email lists and don't shop until they're having a sale. Also, look for online coupons. One of my favorite general sites is (just click the retail tab).

6. Know your options. The malls do offer several fun stores. Beyond that, though, options also abound. Old Navy boasts good deals for kids of all ages. Kohl's is great for bottoms. T.J.Maxx can be a treasure trove. Filene's Basement is a nice place for teens. Prime Outlets in Jeffersonville can be well worth the drive. And stores' websites are a wonderful place to clearance shop.

7. Splurge on something they love. The more they love it, the more they'll wear it. And isn't that the point?

Kristy Eckert is the editor of Capital Style, a bimonthly women's magazine published by The Dispatch Printing Company. To sign up for her weekly e-newsletter, visit