Hidden Gems: Back-to-School Shopping in Los Angeles

Susan Choi - Los Angeles
August 9, 2011

As summer begins to wind down (gulp, already?!), you may find yourself needing to gear up for the upcoming school year -- new clothes, new backpacks, pencils that actually have the erasers intact and are not the length of toothpicks. You will probably find yourself automatically driving to Target to cross off your checklist, but if you want to continue your summer adventures and try new places, here are a few to check out!

Children's Orchard, locations throughout Southern California

Do you ever feel like your child wore a shirt once and just one week later, he outgrew it? Check out the Children's Orchard. There are locations nationwide but each store is as unique as the people who utilize their resale services. You can bring in your used clothes or equipment (check the website for their buying schedule), and they will cut you a check that day for your stuff. They will give you more value for your items if you choose to use your money as merchandise credit at their store. They do not accept discount store clothing like Target or Walmart. Twice a year, Children's Orchard has a "fill-a-bag" event. For a low price (generally about six dollars), you can fill up an entire shopping bag with clothes, shoes, accessories, and pay one low price. It is a great concept and a nice way to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Thematic Attic, Covina

Thematic Attic is like all your favorite stores rolled into one. Are you looking for some new workbooks to supplement your child's current curriculum? Check. Is your child requesting pencils in every color of the rainbow? No problem. Do you want to add to your home library now that your child suddenly went from a non-reader to a chapter book reader? Done. One of the best things about Thematic Attic is that each section of the store is broken down into categories for easier discovery (but it is chockfull of stuff so you may find yourself going through every room). There are tables and chairs scattered throughout the store so you can pull out a book from the shelves and review the contents. The staff is also helpful to set you on the right course. Thematic Attic is a fun store to find some great supplies that will get your children excited to go back to school.

Tough Cookies, Sherman Oaks

Admit it. There are some clothes in your kid's closet that you wished they made in your size. When you walk into Tough Cookies, get ready to be filled with envy. This store has a lot of really cool clothes that you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Filled with brands that make your favorite adult clothing as well as brands that you wish made adult clothing, this is a great store to check out for that special back-to-school outfit. Feel free to bring in your little one while you shop as Tough Cookies has a little art/play area to keep your fashionista entertained. The staff at this store are very accommodating. Definitely clear your calendar from August 20 to 22 as all merchandise will be 50% off. You won't want to miss it.

Top's Art Supplies, Los Angeles

If you have a child who has declared that she wants to be an artist when she grows up, then you have probably walked down the aisles of Michael's arts and craft supply store more times than you care to count. Check out Top's Art Supplies if you are looking for some stuff at prices that are better than the chain stores. Top's has things that Target would never even dream of carrying. And you can have the satisfaction of supporting a local business. The owners (a husband/wife team) are extremely friendly and helpful. Even though you need to be buzzed in when you park in the back parking lot, do not let that deter you. Poster boards in every color imaginable, exquisite handmade papers, and modeling kits for when you, I mean your child, has to turn in a science presentation. This is just the tip of the iceberg. For a small store, it is really packed with great supplies.

Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle, locations throughout Southern California

If you are fortunate enough to live near a Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle store, then you will understand why these stores have been included on this list. You will find a lot of adorable school supplies that will make your student smile when she opens her pencil case. They sell intricately crafted erasers in the shape of an ice cream sandwich or Peter Cottontail or a piece of sushi. Speaking of food, TJL sells great supplies for packing lunches. Bento boxes, stackable food containers, tiny food picks with jungle animals on top so your child doesn't have to pick up pieces of fruit with his grimy hands. Of course, they also carry Hello Kitty and Pokemon school supplies and backpacks. Every store varies a little and everything is reasonably priced. Walk into a store and it is almost guaranteed that you will not walk out empty-handed.

From the Parents

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