It’s the end of summer, which means it’s also time for those most prized possessions of all — school supplies.
Every year, my mother would take us school supply shopping first at our local Dollar Store, and then to the nearby drugstore. Between those two stores, we’d buy all of our supplies. But one year, my mom caught the flu on SSSD (School Supply Shopping Day), and so my dad was selected to do the honors.
Now my dad – aka Captain Dad – is a man who’d walk a mile to save an inch. And he was certain that he could not only do the school shopping faster, but also cheaper than my mother ever thought to do it. Too ill to argue, my mother handed over the list and watched with a worried air as Captain Dad enthusiastically loaded all eight of us kids into the family van, hopped into the driver’s seat, and headed out for SSSD.
To our collective shock, he didn’t stop at the familiar Dollar Store, but drove straight on to the then-version of Costco. Ignoring our protests, he parked the van, lined us all up, marched us into the store, and proceeded to order us up and down the aisles, the list at hand.
Sounds good so far, hm? There’s Captain Dad, in the bargain center of our small town, kids organized into two troops (each with their own buggy), ready to conquer the annual SSSD . . . but it was here that the proverbial wheels fell off the cart.
Why? Because of this:
1. Captain Dad cannot say no to a bargain.
2. We were SURROUNDED by bargains.
Oh, he tried to stay focused on notebook paper and ink pens, but then he remembered that we needed trash bags, so off to the trash bag aisle he went. Of course, this being the then-version of Costco, he bought the coffee table sized box of 1,000 trash bags (“Saved a whole .2 each!”), and stacked it on our notebooks, paper, and pens.
Of course, in going to the garbage bag aisle, Captain Dad realized that my mother was probably using all of the cold medicine in the house and so, while we were there, we might as well restock, so off we went to the cold medicine aisle. We bought cold formula in a huge four pack of 32 oz bottles (“It’ll be extra cold this year, so we’ll use it up by Christmas. AND I saved .41 EACH!”)
People, that’s almost four LITERS of cold medicine. Wow.
And then Captain Dad decided we needed more tissues (“Look at that! Only $1.99 each for 30 boxes!”), and somehow that made him think of chicken drumsticks (“Good lord, those are only $2.99 a pound and they come in bags of 120. Your mother will like that! Get fourteen of those!”) — on and on it went for the next 45 minutes. By the time we went to check out, both buggies were overflowing, we were exhausted trying to maneuver them through aisle after aisle, and my dad was rubbing his hands in glee at all of the money he’d saved.
And then they checked us out . . . I can still remember his face when he saw the final ticket for our SSSD: $519.34. In today’s dollars, that would be . . . heck, I don’t know, but a LOT. What I DO know is that while Captain Dad may not have saved us as much money as he’d hoped, we ended up with a LOT of chicken drumsticks. Mom swears there are still some in our freezer.
When you were growing up, was School Supply Shopping Day a big day at your house? Do you always go to the same places or do you follow the sales? And have you ever bought cold medicine by the liter? Chicken drumsticks by the flock? Do you buy anything in bulk?
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