Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting Screwed Shopping for School Supplies


Only I could make such a big deal out of buying school supplies.  It's that time of year.  If I don't hurry and make up my mind which company I want to buy them from, I'm afraid Katie will be the one weird kid who shows up at school with a scrambled mess of last year's supplies--broken crayons, dried up glue sticks--and off-brand products we buy off some guy on the street.

Actually there is no guy on the street selling school supplies.  There should be.  I'd love to see some hippie selling earth-friendly, fair-trade swag out of the back of his VW Bus parked in front of Katie's school.

But because I live in the conservative Midwest, in the suburbs no less, my options are limited to big box stores like Walmart, Kmart, and Target, or local grocers like Price Chopper or Hy-Vee.  I refuse to shop at Walmart.  Haven't since their temporary guard Jdimytai Damour got trampled during Black Friday years ago.  Kmart's OK.  My mom used to work for them when I was a kid, actually.  I was the spoiled kid on the block whose mom was constantly bringing home toys that were the Blue Light Special of the day.  But it's no Target, which is my favorite of the three box stores.  I guess I could try places like Family Dollar or Dollar General, but the few times I've been inside those stores I've left feeling like I needed a Silkwood shower to get rid of whatever toxic chemicals leached into my skin while looking over all the cheap trinkets made in China.

I am not a power shopper.  I'm a paranoid shopper.

I'm leaning toward buying Katie's school supplies at Target this year.  They were on my naughty list last year when they made a political contribution to "MN Forward, a group supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, a vocal gay marriage opponent."  But now that they're making amends by creating an ad for their same-sex wedding registry, featuring same-sex wedding cards, and selling Pride T-shirts with part of the proceeds of the sales going to an LGBT advocacy group, I'm ready to make up.

I wonder if "make up" shopping is as good as "make up" sex?  I can just see myself running into the store for the first time in a year, my Bride of Frankenstein hair from its lack of inexpensive but good quality Target hair care products standing on end, blocking access for other shoppers as I ravage the school supply shelves.

But I don't know.  Even though Target is on my nice list again, maybe I should still buy Katie's school supplies at one of the more locally owned grocers to support our community?  But if I learned anything growing up with Glen Burton, my father, the retired accountant and all-around cheap ass, it is that you never buy anything but food at a grocery store or else you're getting screwed.

I feel like I'm getting screwed either way.  Cheap and politically progressive but big corporation?  Or, expensive and probably more politically moderate or conservative but more locally owned?  If only I weren't both a frugal shopper and a politically-minded one.  

What I'll most likely end up doing is what I did last year: Ask Will to do it.  Then it's on him and I can continue basking in my blissful indecision.