Hidden Gems: Back-to-School Shopping in Austin

Nicole Basham - Austin
August 9, 2011

Believe it or not, the first day of school is less than a month away. Although it will certainly feel like summer in the months to come, it's time to switch gears -- from flip flops to shiny new tennis shoes, from pool bags to backpacks and from sleeping in to....yikes!

You have your school supply list, and you may have a vague idea of the other things you need to pick up. Here's a handy list of off-the-beaten-path spots where you can pick up all you'll need to start the school year off right.

Sandy's Shoes

There's nothing like starting out the new school year with a pristine pair of shoes, and the staff at Sandy's has been doing just that for over thirty years. Sandy's carries a wide range of shoes, and the staff is very helpful at finding exactly what you are looking for -- and in your price range. Now in a larger location, Sandy's also has a wide selection of toys in case you want to surprise your little one with something new after the first day or week of school.

Bright Beginnings

You may be shocked at first when you walk into Bright Beginnings. The retail locations are literally filled to the brim with colorful clothing for children, from newborns to size 14. The website has a wide selection of clothing and toys, and is easy to navigate. If you visit the central location, you are across the street from Central Market and can treat any reluctant pint-sized shoppers to some outside playtime before you hit your next stop.

1379 Family Sports Shop

If you have a sports-loving child, chances are you can find anything you need at 1379. Owned by a native Austinite who played collegiate-level volleyball and her husband, a former NFL lineman, the two locations stock name-brand athletic gear, apparel, and shoes. The store also hosts events to keep your family active.

Etsy Austin

If the idea of shopping with kid in tow is not in the cards, you might want to check out the 100+ Etsy stores run by Austinites. Amelia Beth makes pendants out of Scrabble tiles, Baby Bolt has great selection of crayon and colored pencil rolls, Elle Dee Designs has adorable pillowcase dresses, and PiggybackPacks sells bags with dolls sewn right in. One warning, though...it may be impossible to browse without purchasing something for yourself!

Thrift and resale stores

You can save on back to school clothing and gear by hitting up thrift and resale stores around town. Savers (one location north and one south) has a good selection of clothing, discounts from Monday until Wednesday and a 99 cent sale on Thursdays. Depending on where you are in town, you can check out Pumpkin Patch, Once Upon a Child, Kid to Kid or Little Green Beans. Bonus? You can do a purge before you go and have a chance to either donate items or even earn towards your purchase.

What is your favorite local, off-the-beaten path place for back-to-school?

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