Shame On You Staples and Office Max for Making a Teacher’s Job Even Harder!

school supplies2

Every summer I watch my sales paper like a hawk waiting for that exact moment when the penny sales kick in.  Three prong folders a penny each.  Glue bottles 5 cents each.  Pencil cases regularly a dollar now 1 cent each.  Year after year I trekked to Staples and Office Max to get the most for my money…not for my own two boys, but for the 30 boys and girls who would show up in my classroom every September.

In the past teachers were allowed to purchase 25 items, and I would always take my son, AJ, with me so he could buy ten additional items, the limit that non-teachers were allowed to purchase.  This way I would have a full class set of the necessary school supplies and a couple extra for the new students who came later in the year.

I never minded spending my money on my students.  I work for a district that is cash strapped, and the parents are also short on funds.  To have a smooth school year we need those supplies, so every year I buy them myself.  I am not bragging, and this does not make me extra special.  Many, many teachers in districts across the country do the exact same thing.  We depend on those penny and nickel sales.  We NEED those penny and nickel sales.

To be fair, when I go to Staples or Office Max I don’t just buy the penny and nickel items and leave.  I also get my favorite pens, some printer ink, and stationary for myself, stickers to use throughout the school year, and the items that my own children will need for their school supplies.

Today, in the Sunday newspaper, arrived the new sale papers and there it was.  Folders, glue, pencil cases, all at Staples.  More folders, pencils, and paper were at Office Max.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!  It was time for this mommy/teacher to grab the kids and go shopping!

First we went to Staples.  I loaded up on my 25 items for each of the sales.  Then I grabbed a few different things that were also priced right.  AJ got his five items each since that was what was stated in the sales paper.

At the register I pulled out my Staples Educator Card and that’s when I was told that they had changed their policy.  Now, with my Educator Card, I would be allowed to just get the first TWO of each item for the penny or nickel.  Then I would have to pay full price for the other 23 items.  In several weeks I would get a Staples Rewards for the difference.  The Rewards could ONLY be used at Staples.  So at the end of the day, one way or another, I was going to spend a heck of a lot of money at Staples.  When I said to the customer service guy that the new policy was really going to hurt a lot of teachers because not all teachers would necessarily have that much money up front all he said was that was the way it was and there was nothing he could do about it.

So I added up all the items in my cart and I realized that I was about to lay down $60 or more for the school supplies at just this one store.  Even if I was going to get about $45 of it back down the road, it was a lot of money right now.  Plus I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of “Rewards.”  A reward means you are obligated to spend it back in the same store.  Further, rewards always have expiration dates on them and if you don’t use it before the expiration date, then you lose your money!  Period…the end…no second chances to get it back.  Trust me I have tried!  I can’t even begin to tell you how many “Gym Bucks” and “Kohl’s Cash” I have lost out on over the years for just that reason!  I was so stunned and disappointed that I literally walked away from my basket and left the store.

A very similar situation played out at Office Max.  Pay in full first, get a rebate later on that you can then use in the store at another time.  Apparently Staples and Office Max are under the presumption that teachers now make a ton of money and have loads of disposable income.  I am sorry to report that this teacher has taken a pay cut for several years in a row now due to declining state revenues.

So today started with great excitement and ended with me coming home with no school supplies.  None!  I was so upset that I didn’t even bother to purchase AJ’s five items.

I know Staples and Office Max are under no obligation to help me help impoverished children in my school district.  They are businesses trying to make a profit and I don’t begrudge them their profits.  But the new policy still stings none-the-less and I will most certainly notice the absence of those much needed school supplies come September.

My job is hard enough even under the best of circumstances, now we will be short of pencils, folders to hold papers for different subjects, and paper.  I am not exaggerating when I say it is perfectly normal for the school to run out of pencils and glue sticks by March.  That is when I pull out my secret stash that I stocked up on in July to see us through the rest of the year.  The same goes for paper and the like.

Now I will need to keep my fingers crossed that perhaps Target or Wal-Mart will put the things I need on a super sale, or else my little second graders will be going without this year.


  1. I know you are not looking for recognition, but I have to say something. You are a wonderful example out there to all those teachers that lost their care and consideration for their students and their families. The fact that you have helped provide these supplies to your students at your expense because you know their families are having difficult times should encourage more to do the same… even those of us who AREN’T teachers can buy supplies and donate to their local school districts… you dont’ even need to have children!

    And you are also setting a great example for your son who sees you do this for others. I have no doubt that it will motivate him to do things of a similar nature when he becomes an adult.

    Thank you and the rest of your colleagues in your district who sacrifice to help their students do the best they can! You are appreciated!

    • Thank you for the compliment. No teacher is looking for a pat on the back but it does feel really nice when he or she gets one. So often politicians and the media paint us in such a negative light. It is easy to feel like all the world’s ills come from teachers to lazy to teach. 99% of the teachers I know work their butt off, despite the fact that the five o’clock news is going to tell the world that we suck.

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