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I hate it.

But I got a circular advertizing 70-page lined notebooks for a nickel each! Crayons for 22 cents! That's less than a penny each! Starting Sunday! Yayyyy! You bet I was there at the door at about 6 a.m, though technically it's a 24-hour store. I just don't like to be robbed at gunpoint and strongly prefer the daylight, safe shopping and whatnot.

I know, I know. Usually I'll go to Target just across the highway, even if it is seven times more expensive. The staff is moderately more helpful there and I've never been asked for money in the parking lot by dirty druggies less than six inches from my face when I'm alone with small children and a big purseful of keys and credit cards like I have been at Wal-Mart. D thinks I shouldn't have given the guy some money, but he doesn't fully comprehend the concept of "intimidation" like I did at that moment. I mean, he's an intelligent guy and knows what "intimidation" is, but it's different when you're BEING intimidated and you have tiny children you love with ya.

Well, anyway...

So we've established that I hate Wal-Mart. But I *HAD* to get some notebooks for a nickel each! Just *HAD* to. Soon as it was daylight, I was off.

Of course, while I was there getting my notebooks and crayons, I also got socks for Elf and Emperor. You know it's sad when your six-year-old is borrowing YOUR girly socks because his are too tight. Time to buy socks. And underwear. Oh! They have index cards on sale. And coloured pencils for 88 cents a pack! 24 pencils for less than a dollar! Into the cart it all goes. Along with cans of apple filling and pie crust. How did that get in there? And coffee filters? This is school shopping stuff? Apparently so. Did I tell you that Wal-Mart is evil??

I've noticed on my rounds that they've carefully positioned the nickel notebooks near the ones that are $2.82. If you aren't specifically looking for the nickel ones, you'll pick up the nearly-three-dollar ones because they have a nicer front cover. Same idea with the pencils.

I think this year I spent about $45 less because I'm doing things like buying the nickel notebooks and cutting the paper out. That's "loose leaf paper" now, thanks, and quite literally more than ten times cheaper. I'm also not buying the specific 82-page college lined notebook or whatever. If it's that big a deal, the teacher will figure out a way to send a note home saying it isn't acceptable. Too often I've busted my hiney looking for the crayola brand 13 pack with built-in sharpener, and gone to several stores, only to find I can't find it anywhere.

I've learned. I'm just going to buy the 12-pack on sale instead of the 13-pack and if the teacher pitches a fit, I'll throw in another pencil from somewhere else and pretend to be brand-name ignorant. My apologies to public school teachers who carefully construct their lists each year, but it would just be nicer to pay a "supply fee" to the school and then we can all stop pretending that public education is "free." Know what? I'll bet if the teachers saw the big to-do we parents went through, jumping from store to store to store to store to store looking for the 82-page notebook, they'd say, just buy a 100 page notebook or two 70's! Or whatever! When we get close to running out of paper, we'll let you know!

I've also learned something else.

It's kind of a mean secret. The teachers, I think rightfully, ask for EVERYTHING up front. Or at least most everything. But DON'T give your public school kids all 98 million pencils for the first day of school. Give them five each, three or so pens, and so on. They can come back every few weeks and ask for more.

I gave Patrick TWO pencils at the beginning of the school year last year. I told him that you know, you can come back and get more pencils and paper when you need it but keep in mind this stuff isn't free. I told him this because I don't want to lose an entire box of pencils per week. What I DIDN'T mean to happen is for Patrick to become the pencil Mafia boss.

From the first day of school, Patrick has picked up forgotten pencils on the hallway floor. He sells these to forgetful children in class for a nickel each. He tells me, with the voice of experience, that the longer pencils with the erasers sell better than the stubby ones with the empty metallic eye-gauge-cups on the ends. He also has fished in the trash (!!) for discarded notebooks and sold sheets of paper to forgetful children over the course of the year. He made, nickel by nickel, about $20 last year between classes.

I'm proud that he's determined not to take too many pencils from home, and I do admire his capitalist spirit. But we're not *quite* that poor, folks. I'll admit to reusing aluminum foil and Brillo pads, though.


  1. Your Wal-Mart is probably the same as our "The Warehouse" here, and I too hate going in there! Nasty place, most of the stuff is really cheap and nasty and not worth a cent. I got two gorgeous Get Well letters today! Wonder who could have sent them??? I will take a photos shortly and put it on me blog... THANK YOU SO MUCH BOYS!! It really brightened my day. You are both so very sweet loving boys.

  2. Awww... I bet we were posting comments on each other's blogs at the exact same moment!! I just got done commenting on yours!!

  3. Mrs. C, I am further convinced that you should live in Portland...first advocating bicyclist rights and now hating Walmart? Those are 2 things in Portland that people live for.

  4. What a little entrepreneur you have. I bet he will be rich someday with that mind.

    I hear you on the druggies in the parking lot. That is one of the many reasons that I do not shop at Wal-mart. Although I do have to admit that I folded on my morals a little bit and let my mom include me on her Sam's Club membership.

  5. I hate wal-mart too. But I do hit the school sale. Dollar Tree is another good place during the school year.
    One time I went 6 months without going in Wal-Mart and it was so refreshing. Now I can only go about a month before I need to go in.

  6. Patrick should keep up his pencil business. At the end of every school day, after I've told the students to get everything picked up off the floor, I go around and pick up all of the used pencils. These are the ones I pass out to students who ask for pencils, and some students need a new one every single day. These students should have to pay so that one day they will begin taking better care of their school supplies.

    We used to have a night custodian who picked up pencils too. She would feed me a few dozen every week. I rarely had to ask the office for new pencils.

    Students who want one of the new pencils, the ones I buy, and that are much cooler than the ones supplied by the district (when we have them) are a quarter. The profit from these pencils, goes to buying pizza parties, outdoor play equipment, and science paraphernalia.

    Some of the cool pencils are also used as rewards, so they can be earned in different ways.

  7. LOL Harry, if Patrick is selling the pencils for a nickel each, he'd be running you out of business! Takes much longer to amass an empire that way, though.

  8. Over in our district, some of the school supplies are shared with all the kids in the classroom and some are not. It would be helpful if the district could indicate that on the list.

  9. I hadn't heard about that sale. We stock up on the notebooks when they are a dime and that's what we use for our school paper. I could have gotten twice as much at a nickel. If we didn't have Wal-mart, we'd have no place to shop. It would be a 4 hour drive south for us. We live out in the boonies.


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