Back-to-school checklist - 510 Families
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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:



  • 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.

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Sweet backpack by Dante Beatrix


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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.


  • 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.

 sambaThe only shoes I’ll ever buy?

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2 thoughts on “Back-to-school checklist”

  1. Happy Feet, the Alameda shoe store, is alive and kicking! They are now located on Park Street, close to the intersection with Central Avenue (close to Peet’s and Starbucks). They have a great selection and very helpful service.

  2. I have bought literally nothing for the start of school which is tomorrow. The school doesn’t even ask for school supplies other than a backpack. I announced to Brooklyn that we needed to go buy her a new backpack, and she said “I’ll just use my train one. Now we don’t need to buy one!” The train one is a fabric preschooler type bag that she was given for her second birthday – it’s still in great shape and just barely holds a full-sized folder which fellow parent told me is all we needed to be able to carry for kindergarten so cool! No money spent:)

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