Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Supplies aisle beckons

Savvy kids come close to $25 limit

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        School shopping is not always fun. Parents have to keep their eye on the list the teacher sent home. Kids have to sometimes forgo the gel pens for their parents' pick of yellow No.2 pencils. The Cincinnati Enquirer provided $25 per person for two sets of parents and children to see what they would buy for the new school year.

        At the Lebanon Wal-Mart, Deborah Shamblin-Powell and her daughter Ashley Shamblin, 6, scoured the aisles to meet the needs of the incoming first-grader at South Lebanon Elementary.

        “We're supposed to buy baby wipes, Kleenex, a glue stick, pencils ...” Ms. Shamblin-Powell said, checking “the list.” Into the cart she tossed two packs of yellow pencils for 50 cents a pack, pencil-top erasers, a three-pack of Kleenex, several glue sticks for 25 cents each, white loose-leaf paper and flash cards.

        Ashley, meanwhile, began tossing fun things into her section of the cart. She quickly dominated the trip.

        “Mommy, go down there,” she said. ”Mommy, let's get these.”

        Soon the cart held a box of 48 Crayola crayons, a ruler with sparkles and Ashley's name printed on it for $1.88, rainbow-colored pencils with “Ashley” printed on them for $1.88 and a little purple rubber stamp that stamps “Ashley,” of course, also for $1.88.

        Her goods topped out at $27.25 — over the $25 limit. But her mom's more conservative purchases came to $22.57 for a grand total of $49.82 — 18 cents under the Enquirer's limit.

        Trip one: A success.

        At the Wal-Mart in Alexandria, shoppers were Jonathan Roseberry, 13, and his mom, Carlene Goins. Jonathan's 10-year-old brother, Aaron, came along.

        Despite having free rein with his $25, Jonathan kept mostly to the list Campbell County Middle School sent for incoming eighth-graders.

        A big purchase right at the start — a scientific calculator — ate up $17.87 and Jonathan was careful thereafter. He checked price tags and comparison-shopped.

        The rest of shopping went quickly: six notebooks, a pack of pencils for 48 cents and a 20-pack of pens labeled “special value” for 97 cents. Jonathan put back the flexi-grip pens he had originally picked up.

        He debated over folders, choosing the ones that were a penny cheaper.

        He did select some flashier folders for 68 cents apiece that he vowed to pay for with his own money.

        His mom tag-teamed, taking over the rest of the list. She chose white lined paper, five folders at 20 cents each, colored pencils for art class at $4.97 and a geometry set with a compass and protractor for $1.97.

        Jonathan's economy allowed the family to snag a couple of items for Aaron, including a plastic folder with accordion pockets. Jonathan got one, too.

        Jonathan's purchases came in at $25.31. Ms. Goins' purchases sub-totaled at $17.87.

        Trip two: a success.


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