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Price check: Back to school shopping

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Aug 08 2013 06:54:57 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

With the start of school just around the corner, I wanted to see where I could find the best deals on back to school supplies, so I chose three stores and five items to compare.

My first stop? Walmart. Folks with the store tell me they have more than 250 items for less than a dollar.

"Walmart because it is quick and easy," says shopper Sarah Carson.

I used a couple of supply lists for schools across southwest Montana to help me figure out what parents might be looking for.

I chose brand name items so my comparisons would be accurate, like a four pack of Sharpie highlighters. They're $1.74 at Walmart. My next item? A Five Star, college-ruled, one subject spiral notebook. It was $1.87.

I found a lot of schools require kids bring wipes to school so, I picked up a three-pack of Clorox disinfecting wipes for $4.97.I also noticed some teachers require more than one binder for classes so, I got two Durable brand three-ring binders for $2.74 each.

With my four different items, I headed to the check-out. My total was $14.06.

My next stop was Staples.

"Staples because of the prices in the ad," explains teacher Nancy Haglund.

Folks at the front desk told me about a back to school card. IT costs $10 and saves you 15 percent on all back to school item purchases.

I found the three pack of Clorox wipes for $5.00. It was just three cents more than Walmart. The Five Star spiral notebook was $3.99, that's two dollars and 10 cents more than Walmart.

I could only find a four pack of Sharpie highlighters, nonetheless, it was only 26 cents more at $2.00. That's two dollars off regular price.

Finally, my two binders costs me close to $8 total. My bill at check out was $18.97, that's without using a discount card.

Target was my last stop.

"The ad, one thing, and then I do a lot of coupon shopping," shopper Naida Lindquist tells me.

The wipes were a cent less than Staples and two cents more than Walmart. I looked for highlighters but Target was out. They didn't carry a four pack but the five pack would have cost me $2.99, more than Staples and Walmart.

The spiral notebook set me back $1.89, cheaper than Staples but two cents more than Walmart.

I found a special on three-ring binders, however, and grabbed two at $.99 apiece. My total? $11.85. That's about $7 less than Staples and close to $2 less than Walmart.

So, while Walmart had the lowest prices on many items, Target's prices on binders kept my bill the lowest.

For the best deals, it's best to shop around, keep an eye on ads and look for coupons.

Remember, those ads change weekly. Walmart stresses they have everyday low prices so, they don't often have two for one deals or similar promotions. They also remind customers "our Ad Match Guarantee allows for an easy price match of any local competitor's ad for an identical product," explains Walmart Spokesperson Molly Philhours.

As for that Staples Back to School Card?

It's good through the end of August and Rewards members save an extra five percent.