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The back-to-school season can come with some family-wide stress, but it can also be a joy. From an updated wardrobe and new friends to crisp fall weather and stocking up on school supplies, there are many reasons for kids, teens, college students, and even parents to get excited.
Speaking of school supplies, do you know where to find the best selection and deals on notebooks, binders, paper, writing utensils, art supplies, calculators, and other digital gadgets? In the modern world, more and more people are shopping for these items online. However, heading to a brick-and-mortar store is often part of the fun. Whichever medium you prefer, we found a retailer that'll meet your needs before the bell rings.
Scroll down for a rundown of the best places to buy school supplies online and in person.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon is an excellent resource for affordable back-to-school items. There are hundreds of thousands of products in its office and school supplies section, not to mention textbooks, computers, printers, and tablets. Shipping is usually fast and free with a Prime membership, and you can save even more by auto-replenishing your favorite items using the "Subscribe & Save" feature.
"I would say that the best place to buy school supplies online would be Amazon. They usually have better deals/prices, and you can get a lot more for your buck. You can buy things in bulk, too, which is great." — Jade Van Der Elst, 4th grade teacher from Louisville, Kentucky
When it comes to budget-friendly school supplies, Walmart is a tried-and-true destination. You'll find crayons and watercolor paints for little kids, folders and ruled paper for older kids, Twin XL sheets for the college-bound, and everything in between.
Walmart's online interface is no slouch either. You can filter your search by category, product type, brand, and school grade. There's even a classroom supplies section for teachers! The selection isn't quite as robust as Amazon's, but you're sure to find what you're looking for and then some.
Target is a great place to shop both in-person and online, with tens of thousands of product offerings at agreeable price points. When you browse the website, you'll find essentials from top brands and trendy, curated items for those looking for a little flair. With most orders, you can get two-day shipping or opt for in-store pickup. Every summer the retailer offers the Target Teacher Discount, a six-week summer event when teachers get 15 percent off school supplies.
"Target is my go-to for in-person supplies. I usually get what I need in the summer because they do a special promotion for teachers, plus they have a lot of back-to-school supplies for cheaper prices. I also LOVE checking out Target Dollar Spot. They have cute and affordable decor for your classroom, especially during summer." — Jade Van Der Elst, 4th grade teacher from Louisville, Kentucky
While other retailers offer their school supplies seasonally, Staples sells school and office accessories all year long. Whether you're shopping in person or online, you'll find a massive inventory of back-to-school basics for all ages. We're talking flashcards, highlighters, colored pencils, permanent markers, calculators, binders, backpacks, poster board, desk chairs, tablets, you name it. Delivery is typically free and fast—no minimums required—and you can even arrange for same-day pickup.
Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond might not be the first place you think of for back-to-school shopping, but school supplies definitely fall into the "Beyond" category. Whether your child is in grade school or heading off to college, the retailer is sure to have at least a few things on your list.
While you may want to shop elsewhere for basics, you'll find a decent selection of higher-end items. From dorm room essentials like shower caddies, laundry baskets, and storage solutions to pencil cases, folders, and desk organizers, Bed Bath & Beyond has something for everyone at every stage.
In today's world, school supplies go far beyond paper and pencils. From the start of middle school (and sometimes earlier), schoolwork often calls for laptops, tablets, calculators, thumb drives, and other tech products.
You know you can count on Best Buy for these gadgets, but what you might not know is that the retailer also carries a variety of niche items. This includes label makers, UV disinfecting wands, and smart notebooks—to name a few. Best Buy offers a pretty generous return policy, too, so you can get your money back if you buy something that doesn't quite fit your needs.
The Container Store
In terms of school-related products, The Container Store mostly caters to college students, as it offers myriad storage solutions fit for dorm rooms. However, there are lots of great items geared toward at-home learning and some high-end essentials that could be used by older kids.
When you browse the selection, you'll find a curated selection of markers, pens, notebooks, scissors, staplers, and sticky notes. Then there's a range of slightly more sophisticated items, like page-markers, lazy Susan desk organizers, label makers, and phone stands.
For those transitioning from living at home to a dorm room lifestyle, Urban Outfitters is an excellent place to shop. The young adult-approved retailer offers a bunch of cool desk supplies and studying essentials for a home-away-from-home.
This includes desks, chairs, lamps, pens, desk organizers, phone charging stations, mousepads, dry-erase boards, alarm clocks, mug warmers, and printer stands. Urban Outfitters even has an entire notebook category chock full of options from various brands with trendy cover art.
Rifle Paper Co.
If you're looking for a planner or desk calendar, you should definitely take a peek at the offerings from Rifle Paper Co. Part whimsy and part Type A, the brand carries notebooks and accessories with hand-painted floral designs, botanicals, and preppy stripes.
Beyond products that help you stay on top of your schedule, Rifle Paper has lots of other goodies for the organized-at-heart. We're talking clipboards, file folders, binder clips, washi tape, letter trays, and even a designated notebook for your sticky notes.
Why Trust The Spruce?
The Spruce contributor Theresa Holland is a seasoned commerce writer specializing in home goods, storage solutions, organization, and work-from-home products. She's a big fan of each of these retailers and can personally vouch for their product selections, and also relied on expert recommendations to compile this list. Check out more stories by Theresa on MyDomaine, Verywell Family, and Byrdie.