Back-to-school checklist

A little background: I’m sending my son off to kindergarten next week and I loathe back-to-school shopping (or any fake shopping season where I’m expected to drop a ton of money for no good reason).

  • Is your kid the same size as he was last month? Then maybe he doesn’t need new pants right now. Same size feet? Skip the new shoes?
  • Not packing a lunch anymore? Don’t buy a lunchbox.
  • And is your daughter growing her hair out? Forget the haircut and buy a new hairclip.

BUT… if these things are NOT true for you. If your son is wearing pants that are 4 inches too short, there may be a little back-to-school shopping prep in order. Here’s my plan of attack along with some local favorite places:


Linh cuts Holden’s hair



  • I have very strong opinions about backpacks.
  • I purchased two preschooler backpacks at Kid Dynamo and was very happy.
  • The Ecology Center stocks backpacks made from hemp and granola. Ok, I’m kidding about the granola.
  • REI has several options that might, if you’re lucky, last for years!
  • And there’s always Target if you want something that will fall apart before Winter Break.

Sweet backpack by Dante Beatrix


Preschool Bento photo by Wendy Copley



  • I scooped up 7 pairs of pants, 2 swim suits, and 2 shirts from Grove Street Kids for $94. Yes, I may have cleaned out all the size 5/6 boy pants if you need them, but there are good deals to be had on second-hand. The new store is nestled on the corner of Rose and Shattuck.
  • Truth be told, I bought a few similar items at Old Navy and Gap. At Bay Street. Since they’re SF-based, that’s kinda local.

My haul from Grove Street Kids as seen in the trunk of my car


  • Hold me. Where do you people go for decent shoes?
  • A fellow mom of 3 boys suggests that the best lasting athletic shoes for her money are Adidas Samba. Good tip, now the shoes have outlasted my laces.
  • Whitney has been known to buy up shoes on and returns what doesn’t fit.
  • I went to REI while my kids were sleeping and stocked up on size 10s only to discover they didn’t really fit. Their gracious return policy is a good enough reason to go there — seriously, my son wore the shoes once, decided they hurt, colored them with pink chalk!, and REI said they would accept them as a return. Plus you can stock up on other things while you’re there! Like backpacks.

 The only shoes I’ll ever buy?