Gearing up for back to school

Our favorite places and insider tips for tackling back-to-school shopping (Todor Tsvetkov / istock / July 23, 2013)

Details Locations throughout country, go to for more information.


Budget-friendly school fashion -- Village Discount Outlet

If you’ve got the time and your child has lots and lots of patience (or loves to shop), come here to stock up on clothing at great prices. It’s a thrift store, so most of the clothing is second-hand, but you can occasionally find some new clothing. Every week, the stores choose three colors of clothing to discount by 50 percent. So if your child is a fan of pink clothing, call the store weekly to see if it’s her lucky week (they change the color sale every Thursday).

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For creating a homework nook -- The Land of Nod

To help make your child be the A+ student he or she is meant to be, it would be great if they had an organized desk area. At The Land of Nod, there’s a ton of desks and hutches which can be combined to add extra storage space for all those books and computer software needs. The Walden Desk & Hutch ($700 for the desk and $350 for the hutch) comes in white, chocolate or blue and will give your child enough room to keep a desktop or laptop computer and is our favorite find. You can also purchase chairs to match.

Details Locations throughout country. for more information.


Something to splurge on -- L.L.Bean

For a backpack (starts at $30 for the smallest size) that’ll stand up to the toughest of kids, you’ll need to head here. There are no cute animal shapes or super fun patterns, but the bags are delightfully retro, and the good news is that these retro backpacks will last for years and still look delightfully retro yet brand new at the same time. A lot of children have these bags, so it’s best to monogram yours ($8). Plus, that makes it look a little more personal. Worried about having your little one’s name out in the open? Put his initials on it so he knows his bag is his – but no one will know his name.

Details Locations throughout country.


College-bound students - Textbooks on Park

College students should skip the queue at their local bookstore and head here for majorly discounted textbooks. While they primarily service College of DuPage students, all students are welcome – and they’ve got a great selection of used textbooks. They also have a rental program and a buyback program where they’ll pay up to 50 percent off the current used retail price from any school for books that meet their criteria. Call ahead of time to make sure they have the books on your school list – and then you’re good to go.