Staples Enforces Loss Leader Limits, Makes Teachers Sad

Teachers in high-poverty school districts like Rachael provide, at their own expense, a lot of pretty basic supplies for their students. They do this with the help of back-to-school loss-leader sales at big-box office supply stores. Staples lets them buy twenty-five boxes of crayons for a penny each, and in return the teachers give Staples their undying gratitude and devotion. But Staples, at least in the Northwest where Rachael live, has stopped easing purchase limits for teachers. Teachers are now limited to two of each loss-leader item instead of as many as twenty-five. And while she understands why the company couldn’t continue this incredible generosity, it makes her sad.

She writes:

I’m writing as a public school teacher in a high poverty elementary
school. Most of my students cannot afford school supplies and our
district has slashed our budget so that we don’t get many supplies
from the school. So where do we get our supplies? Out of our own

I spend my summer perusing the weekly ads at Staples and at other
office supply stores in order to benefit from the weekly penny deals
that each store promotes. Staples has always been supportive of
teachers and would change the limit on their loss leaders to 25 per
day. It was incredibly generous and made a huge difference in my
classroom. I could afford to provide the basics to my students at a
reasonable price (okay, an incredible price). Since they were so
generous, I stayed loyal to their store the rest of the year when I
needed other items.

I fully understand that Staples needed to change their policy. Last
year they made a change that the penny deals were available to those
who spent $5 in the store. It was more than fair and I was willing to
pay more.

This Sunday, I started perusing the ads again because I knew the sales
were starting. I saw that Staples had its usual penny items listed so
I headed over get my goodies, plus a few more items. I filled my
basket with crayons, pens and glue and headed to the register with my
Teacher Rewards card in hand. The sales associate informed me that I
would have to pay full price for all items past the store limit and
that because I am a teacher, the store would put a credit on my
Rewards card for everything I paid above the penny. This isn’t a
rebate. It’s a certificate that can only be used in their store. I’d
be paying $80 for a $.75 purchase and I wouldn’t be getting that money
back except to use in their store.

Until Staples changes their policy, I will no longer shop at their
store. One of their competitors still offers larger limits on deals to
teachers. I want other consumers to know how Staples has stopped
supporting educators.

Again, I understand that their former policy was overly generous,
especially when there wasn’t a purchase requirement. However, this new
policy does not help teachers. I don’t know many teachers who can
shell out $80 a day to buy cheap quality school supplies.


Edit Your Comment

  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:


    OK, so at least the OP kind of gets it. And I am sympathetic to her cause. But…seriously? Staples is *still* giving her an unbelievable deal…they’re still going to lose money in all likelihood on this deal. So now she’s “no longer going to shop in their store” because they’re not willing to pay her to do so…at least not in the same way they used to pay her to shop there?

    Self-entitled much?

    • longdvsn says:

      I think the OP could still work it out to get good deals here…suppose every time she went, she gets 100 penny items, but at retail cost it is $80 total
      She pays $80 up front (sucks, but oh well), gets about $79 back in rewards points
      Next time, pays only $1 (and uses $79 in points), gets $79 back in points…

      It’s not the end of the world…just sucks that she has to put up her own money (basically, the amount of whatever her maximum purchase is), which is then tied up in the system. Sucks that Staples isn’t being quite as friendly as before though.

      • RandomHookup says:

        If this is like the consumer rewards at Staples, they only become available to you after a certain time. You can’t “rinse & repeat” on the same rewards.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        …and also, why exactly can’t the kids’ parents be bothered to go to Staples and buy the one-penny items in accordance with the store’s policy? Look at what that says about not just our education system – but the piss-poor attitude of parents these days.

        You want your kid to have his crayons and pencils for school? Ride the bus to Staples and slap down your 2 cents like you actually give a sh1t.

        • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

          Beacause it’s a special Teacher’s Reward card and parents can’t get the deal? Maybe I’m misuderstanding the OP…..

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            The special part for teachers was that they could buy up to 25 of an item at the penny price – whereas presumably non-teachers could only buy one or two.

            Hence…if parents gave a sh1t they could buy penny crayons and pencils for themselves.

            • Danno23 says:

              And therein lies the crux of the problem: Parents abdicating their responsibilities to the school system.
              “Why should I ? The school will do it for me.”

              When I was a kid, if I got bad grades, guess who got yelled at? And guess who gets yelled at today if a kid brings home a bad grade?

              • Danno23 says:

                I guess it didn’t like the faux tags.

                “Why should I *insert parental responsibility here*? The school will do it for me.”

                • RvLeshrac says:

                  Parents who yell at teachers for their kids’ bad grades should have the kids taken away from them. They’re pretty clearly incapable of raising kids who aren’t idiots.

    • short_texas says:

      Yes, she is very self entitled to spend her OWN money on supplies that the government should be supplying to the school. What nonesense that she has to spend her own money on supplies that the school itself should be supplying.

      If a member of the Army had to buy their own gun or an Air Force pilot was expected to buy their own fighter jet then people would be outraged. Yet a teacher having to spend money out of pocket on school supplies to do her job is no big deal and she is also somehow self entitled.

      The U.S military is the biggest entitlement program in the U.S. Where else can you get an entry level job with no skills or education and have the government basically take care of you for the rest of your life with all types of benefits.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Wow, did you ever totally miss my point. And probably lots of points.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Reminds me of a story:

          Guy gets a new job. On his way from the train station to the office on his first day of work, he walks past a woman selling flowers on the sidewalk. Fifty cents for a carnation.

          He stops and fishes 2 quarters out of his pocket, gives the woman the coins and tells her to keep the flower for herself.

          He does this every day for a year – continuously giving this woman 50 cents every day, without taking the flower.

          Then one day as he hands her the 50 cents, the woman disdainfully points at her new sign, and says “sorry sir, flowers are 75 cents now.”

          The fact that someone was giving you something at a loss to themselves for a long time does not mean you’re entitled to it, and if they suddenly decide to give you less, at a lesser loss to themselves, you’re not entitled to complain about it.

  2. greatgoogly says:

    Mitt Romney and Bain Capital need mo money mo money money. Never enough!

    • frank64 says:

      Yes, every corporation should just sell to schools at a loss. A company that Romney has an interest in owns Staples, and that means Mitt Romney is a cold, cold person who shouldn’t be elected. I am sure Romney is the one who changed the policy.

  3. PunditGuy says:

    I’m married to a now-former school teacher (sixth grade). It’s amazing how much out-of-pocket stuff teachers are expected to pony up for.

    However… what would happen if y’all just stopped doing it? I think that alternative is better than continuing to enable parents and school districts to abdicate their responsibilities.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      I have to agree. It would absolutely be painful until the uproar became wide enough to force proper change, but the way this is handled now is both sick, and sickening. Most public school teachers already don’t make anything close to what they should be paid, or even a “good” wage. Placing the burden of supplies on them in turn is simply abhorrent, and should never have been allowed become a normal practice.

      And the saddest part is that all of this could be fixed for a tiny portion of the military and pork-barrel spending that is done every year. But where do the cuts always seem to go first? Yep, education, the critical keystone of everything else…

      • frank64 says:

        It is better to at least start out with local and state taxes paying for schools. Federal taxes should be a last resort. The higher up the chain spending goes, the more the money is free and the decision making changes drastically. Free money is spent way too easily.

    • liz.lemonade says:

      I wish it were that easy. I’m a sixth grade teacher in a low-income school. If we stopped providing supplies, the kids would go without. Period. Most of the parents would not eventually step up, including those slightly above the poverty line. Took me years to accept that that’s just the way it is. Alas.

      • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

        Well, in a low-income situation like that, is it that they *wont* step up, or that they *cant* step up? I was lucky, growing up, in that I had generous grandparents who could help pay for our school supplies. But if they hadn’t been around, there are times we would have gone without.

        Of course, I’m of the opinion that the school should receive enough funding to provide supplies, but that’s just me.

        • DrRonIsIn says:

          It is a combination of can’t and won’t.

          • elangomatt says:

            I think it is much more that parents won’t step up and pay for the supplies. The think they are entitled to free school supplies since they get so much other free stuff from entitlement programs. My mother worked in a very low income school for 30 years (nearly 100% of the students got free breakfast and lunch every day), and she could walk down the hallways and see a decent number of kids wearing expensive name brand clothing and the lastest Nike shoes that she couldn’t even afford to buy for me.

            • DrRonIsIn says:

              Abuse and entitlement does happen, but in my experience has been the exception rather than the rule. Of course, it is a vocal and noticeable exception that can drive you nuts if you let it.

          • Geekybiker says:

            Mostly won’t. A we’re not talking a whole lot of money. Skip a couple 40’s of Old E one weekend and you’ll be able to buy pencils for your kid. Its a sad attitude of entitlement that exists in the US.

        • frodolives35 says:

          It drives me crazy to see people with children who go with out while the parent yac on a cell phone while smoking Marlboro 6$ a pack ciggs.

      • PunditGuy says:

        I completely agree. Kids would go without. But that’s the only way the situation will change. I’m guessing more parents than you’d think would step up. But for those who don’t or won’t, the responsibility should ultimately sit with the district, not the teachers.

    • MPD01605 says:

      This is what I was thinking. I applaud teachers and support them however I can. But yeah the kids would go without supplies, but it’s the harsh reality of today’s world where nobody feels responsible for other people. It’s sad that this happens in poorer areas, but it also happens in more well-off areas, too, and like you said, it enables parents who just don’t feel like buying things for their kids and schools. Maybe the electorate would hear the cries of the kids who can’t colour or draw and demand more from their elected representatives and each other. And in the long run, these kids might remember that struggle and help change things (or keep the change going).

      Or it would all go horribly wrong and the kids grow up bitter and selfish. /rant

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      and isn’t it something like only $250 in costs that teachers can declare on federal tax for a given year?

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    I don’t get it. if she is loyal as she claim, she’ll spend the credit on her reward card within the follow year.


    what’s the problem?

    I can see if being a problem if she only show for the deals and that’s it.

    • akronharry says:

      She said she shops there the rest of the year so what’s the problem?
      SHe gets a credit and she uses that.
      Something is not right.

    • kcvaliant says:

      She never was loyal. It is a facade, she was loyal to who got her the cheapest deal.

      Most consumers are not loyal, they just like to think they are.

    • regis-s says:

      Some people seem to have an odd definition of loyalty. They’ll happily frequent a business as long as it’s to their advantage and everything goes their way. The first time things don’t they don’t hesitate to jump ship.

      If she can’t afford to shop at Staples because they changed their policy, that’s fine. If she wants to tell other people of the policy change to warn them, that’s fine too.

      She lost my sympathy with the idea that Staples somehow “owes” it to teachers to support them. Which they apparently are still doing. Just not to the extent they were or she thinks they should.

      • Jawaka says:

        Does she not purchase gasoline from Shell because they don’t offer a discount to teachers either? What about Stop & Shop or CVS?

        And lets be honest here, if she wasn’t paying for these supplies out of her own pocket (which she shouldn’t have to do) she wouldn’t give a shit how much they cost.

  5. PragmaticGuy says:

    I don’t know how much this is costing Staples but I suspect it’s quite a bit when you add up totals throughout the U.S. Besides that, since the store may have a limited stock it’s possible that there’s only so much to go around. I don’t think they give rainchecks on those sale items so when they’re gone they’re gone. I hope that the OP is able to help her students in other ways so that they can get the education they deserve.

  6. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I want other consumers to know how Staples has stopped supporting educators.

    Seriously? You no longer get basically free school supplies and that translates to the company no longer supporting educators?

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  7. crispyduck13 says:

    I want other consumers to know how Staples has stopped
    supporting educators.

    I mean, I get that it sucks for her, but it’s not Staples’ job to support educators. Their business is not based on supplying broke schools with crayons and notebooks at their own loss.

    She’s right, their policy was generous, obviously they were losing too much money on it and they had to change it. The idea that she would punish them for giving her that crazy deal for years by taking all of her business elsewhere is not really reasonable. At the very least the idea that she thinks other people should also not shop there is not reasonable.

    I support teachers but this is not a fair trampling of a business.

  8. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    It is sad that so many teachers have to go to such extremes to get supplies in the classroom. Sad that is in the statement it makes about our national priorities.

    Spend the money in the formative years to create good citizens who productively contribute to society or spend it to build jails, courts and prisons to house bad citizens who suck the life out of our society… who’d have thought this would be so?

    • huadpe says:

      It’s actually a statement about how insane the budgeting process for schools is. Almost all of a school’s budget is spoken for years before a school year begins. Salaries, utilities, and bussing costs are basically fixed and unchangeable. The reason that stuff like supplies and electives get cut so quickly is that they’re the only things that aren’t contractually or legally obligated. So when you need to cut 2%, but 96% of your budget is untouchable, you end up cutting the touchable portion in half.

      • DuckNCover says:

        Many school systems, at least where I have lived, no longer even supply busing. Some got rid of it altogether, others, like where I grew up (and this was when I was still in school, so for more than 20 years now), the parents have to pay if they want busing. Back when I was in school it cost something like $150 per year/student, but there was a family rate – either “up to” a certain amount or a lesser amount for each additional student from a family.

        Even that changed and my old hometown doesn’t seem to do busing at all now. My friend who still lived there until a couple of years ago was expected to put her 11 year old on public transportation and then her daughter had to walk almost 2 miles from the closest bus stop to the middle school.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Do you realize that Education by all levels of government are only exceeded by spending on healthcare (medicaid and medicare) and pensions (federal pensions and social security?)

      Locally one of the poorer school districts is also one of the larger ones and ironically we hear this “teachers have to buy out of their own pocket….” type comments but of course they don’t like it when I counter that if almost 20% of the local teachers didn’t have salaries pushing $100k a year to teach an average of only 4-5 45 minute classes a day (yep, a brutal 3-4 hour of actually classroom time) for an equally brutal 180 day schedule then maybe the schools would have more money to buy supplies.

      • LadyTL says:

        Really? We spend more on education than on the military? How did you come to that conclusion?

      • DrRonIsIn says:

        Where is this? I want to go where you are!

      • elangomatt says:

        You are sorely mistaken if you think teachers only work 3-4 hours a day. Teachers often get other duties at the school such as monitoring the hallways during passing periods, monitoring the cafeteria during lunch. That doesn’t include the grading of homework and such either. My mother was a teacher for years and spent a minimum of an hour a night grading papers, at home, because she wasn’t given enough time during the school day. She was another one of the many teachers that bought a large majority of the school supplies out of her salary for her students since virtually 100% of the student body was below the poverty level.

        • Anathema777 says:

          Or you could get extra duties like my mom did at her school. It it rained, they’d need teachers on duty during passing time to hold the tarps in place so that the leaks would continue to run into a bucket instead of onto the floor. It’s a nice school.

      • reishka says:

        Yep, okay. How about you sit down and have a conversation with my husband about the “only 4-5 45 minute classes a day” a day that he works. What about lunch duty? What about being a hall monitor? What about the 3 – 4 hours of daily meetings and parent-teacher conferences, student fundraisers, bus duty, field trips, and the special-needs coordinating that he does? Not to mention that he’s the de-facto department head for the history department because he’s the only history teacher for 6th – 8th grade in a k-8 school?

        On top of that, he comes home only to do another 3 – 5 hours worth of work making lesson plans, grading, and paperwork.

        I want to know what fantasy world you’re living in where teachers get to make 100k a year. My husband’s salary barely touches half that, and he does a hell of a lot more than you think.

      • RedOryx says:

        Know how I can tell you don’t personally know any teachers?

    • Me says:

      or: Spend money, endless piles and piles of money on any desperate attempt to try and turn neglected doomed children into good citizens who productively contribute to society and then when that fails spend even more piles and piles of money to build for profit jails, staff courts with government workers, and build even more prisons to house bad citizens who suck the life out of society (and a few rape or murder victims along the way).

      When the parents are entitled sand for brains idiots it is a miracle that any child “raised” by those parents will EVER be able to function in society. By “raised” I mean paying the parents cash, medical treatment, housing, cell phones, etc. to ignore their responsibility to their children and continue to do the stupid things they have done their entire lives. New rule: if you get any type of “assistance” you have to actively parent your children. NO cable tv, cell phones, or meals out. You will entertain/teach and cook and clean for your family. You will make sure your children are clean and put to bed at a reasonable bedtime and you will supervise your children at all times. Just doing those basic things would create good citizens – even if the parents are half retarded drug addicts. If you make them get up in the morning and go to bed at night and take care to the best of their limited brain power addict ability – you would see an immediate improvement.

      Our national priority should be forcing both parents to actively rear their children, not buying school supplies.

  9. menty666 says:

    Flash mob with her and 30 of her friends to all go in and buy the limit?

  10. Invader Zim says:

    This sounds like whining. You had a good deal, be thankful they offered it in the first place. It obviously didn’t encourage you to be a faithful buyer because your dumping them. So perhaps they shouldn’t have bothered to help you out in the first place. Free or things for a penny isn’t usually forever. Life goes on. Nearly every industry is hurting so don’t be surprised. If it happens again elsewhere. Thanks for letting me know that Staples helped you out as an educator in an impoverished area. Thats cool. Thanks for picking up supplies for students in your classes, thats cool. Pooing on a company that helped you do it, not very nice.

  11. byroan says:

    If you’re not happy with an in-store credit, then I don’t believe you when you say “I stayed loyal to their store the rest of the year when I needed other items.”

  12. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    Again, I understand that their former policy was overly generous,
    especially when there wasn’t a purchase requirement. However, this new
    policy does not help teachers. I don’t know many teachers who can
    shell out $80 a day to buy cheap quality school supplies.

    I’m…not sure why this is Staples’ problem. I also don’t think Rachel understands at all.

    I’ve worked in the school system. It sucks that some parents can’t/won’t buy enough school supplies for their kids, and that the schools don’t give teachers a lot of money for classroom supplies. But why do they expect businesses to pick up the slack? Businesses donate at the corporate level as they see fit. Of all the things they do that suck, they don’t deserve to be shamed because teachers struggle. Blame the schools and parents for that one.

    Loss leaders are designed to get people in the store so they’ll hopefully spend more money on other things. Say you have a two-crayon box limit per person and you have 500 boxes in a store. You can either sell them to 250 people who will buy various other things, or to five teachers who buy nothing but the penny deals. If you go with the latter, you’ve essentially lost a huge profit with no return to make up for it.

    You can bet that during normal times, Rachel doesn’t say, hey, Staples has a higher price on X item, but boy I’m so undyingly grateful for the deals they gave me last summer that I’ll shop there anyway. She’ll go where the price is cheapest.

    • JJFIII says:

      Parents should not be expected to pick up the slack. The entire purpose of public education is to get the education off public money. If it requires I purchase a computer, and notebooks and pens and pencils and calculators it is me funding the education and the school providing the building.

      The funding of most states school systems is a joke and the area where legistlators seem to think is a good place to cut, at the same time they earn their pensions after 6 years and get their own free health care on tax payer money.

      • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

        it is me funding the education and the school providing the building.

        And the, you know, teachers. Otherwise you could keep the notebooks and pens at home and call it a school.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Do you realize that education by all levels of government is just under a trillion dollars this year, and that it is in fact third is expenditures and is only surpassed by healthcare (medicaid, medicare, CDC, etc..) and pensions (federal pensions as well as social security?)

        We’ve been throwning money at the education problems in this country for decades with little to show for it, well except teachers salaries going through the roof.

        • LadyTL says:

          Again with you leaving the biggest money hole out of the equation, military spending. Also not all teacher salaries are the same. Some public teachers make far less than your touted 100k which isn’t that much anyways in comparison to other government salaries.

          • DrRonIsIn says:

            I would also want know where these 100k salaries are. The average in my state is 46k, and that is with 60% of the state’s teachers within 10 years of retirement skewing the average salary to the higher side of the scale. Beginning salary on the state scale is 25k and tops out at 40k. Local districts have to fund any salary over that.

  13. Outrun1986 says:

    How is a student supposed to get the supplies at a reasonable price when every teacher in the city goes into the store and cleans them all out?. School budget issues aside, Staples is not running a charity here, they are a business and they are there to make money. If the store is losing money than they are within every right to change their policy. Stores have limited quantities of these deals and its not intended so that one person comes in and cleans out all the supplies so that no one else can get any. If every student went in with $5 and the stuff they needed was in stock they would be able to get it and come to school at least somewhat prepared on a small budget.

    If the school district is in trouble and students don’t have enough supplies because they honestly cannot afford them how about asking Staples to make a donation of supplies or funds for supplies? I always see donation bins for underprivilaged children, it seems that the OP’s school is in genuine need of donations so I see nothing wrong with asking around for donations of supplies.

  14. bnceo says:

    How about maybe the district buys these supplies using their quantity muscle for a good rate? Seriously, Staples was doing a favor and are now in a fight to save themselves. I can see the losses here. Too bad. Private sector rules. Sucks, yeah. But consider yourself lucky.

    All in all, she shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for anything. All supplies should be provided by the school.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      All in all, she shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for anything. All supplies should be provided by the school.

      And by that you mean “people who pay taxes”.

      • frank64 says:

        Yes, taxes spent for school supplies are good taxes, much better than have a teacher pay out of pocket.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          No, they’re not good taxes. School supplies should be bought by parents. If they can’t do it, there are plenty of charitable organizations that will supply them.

          • crispyduck13 says:

            Funding schools, police, fire stations, and public road plowing are really the only receivers of what I consider “good taxes.”

            I suppose your idea of a good tax is a tax that doesn’t exist?

          • frank64 says:

            Yes, the parents should be primarily responsible, but after that I think the school should have a budget or at least a fund paid for by donations or fund drives. I am what most here consider a “right winger”(I don’t think so though), but I would default to the children getting needed supplies, if needed, from the school rather than the teacher. Funding of schools should come from taxes, and not charity, We all have that responsibility, saying get it from charity is our society not taking responsibility and hoping someone else does.

      • regis-s says:

        If she’s making over a hundred grand a year like someone else claims I’m pretty sure she’s paying taxes.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Except in many cases there will be graft and the schools will over pay so a company that then hires the former administrators or something.

      Parents and Charities buying supplies has worked well. Teachers shouldn’t have to do it.

      I really wish we could trust the school to negotiate a good deal on supplies, but they don’t have the staff to dedicate to that purpose and it likely wouldn’t save enough in the end.

      • frank64 says:

        “Parents and Charities buying supplies has worked well. Teachers shouldn’t have to do it.”

        It hasn’t worked that well because teachers buying supplies is so common that there was a special $250 federal tax deduction. It expired, but they are looking at bringing one back.

      • DrRonIsIn says:

        Schools can’t have the staff dedicated to purchasing because then someone would complain about “too many administrators”. It is a no-win situation.

        Not too sure about the “graft” to which you refer. All school purchasing and contracts are public record, and the bid process is required to be public and posted.

    • sponica says:

      yeah…but I’ve found that those same people who hate buying school supplies are the same ones that bristle about paying an extra 10 dollars a year in property taxes to keep class sizes at under 25 kids. or the ones who bitch and moan at line at the town clerk’s office about how the office only works part time and then vote down the budget to increase hours. (i really hate having to take PTO to register my car…sure renewals can be done online, but private sales have to be done in person)

  15. qwill says:

    I am a teacher and a few years back I took advantage of quite a few of these deals (with my 4 kids making purchases too we ended up with mountains of paper, glue, crayons and pencils) only to realize it was all junk. The pencils wouldn’t sharpen, the glue hardened in the bottle, the glue sticks were useless and the paper was closer to tissue paper than anything you might actually write on. The crayons were the only thing that came close to being useful. Most of it ended up in the trash. And I never throw anything away!
    Now the coupon for 12 Sharpies for a dollar I will be using in about an hour. Between now and the end of August I will be snatching up deals, but now I stick to name brand supplies.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Also, I go to a lot of yard sales and secondhand sales, I see A LOT of discarded school supplies. Some things are brand new and some are slightly used but still perfectly usable. I saw several boxes of almost new crayons the other day up for sale for pennies. But no supply drives only want NEW and not used items, even though there are tons of almost new but opened items out there. Backpacks can be used more than once unless they are beat up but I find a lot in good condition and pencils and pens that have been used a few times are still good. Its hard to believe that there are kids that don’t have a backpack when I see stacks of perfectly usable ones at tons of house sales. I don’t exactly live in a wealthy area, my area has plenty of children who don’t have enough school supplies. If all the partially used school supplies were donated instead of thrown away at the end of the year then we should have more than enough in this country to support schools that have very little or have nothing at all.

      • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

        I’ve worked on supply drives and it’s not that they turn their noses up at slightly used stuff; it’s that if they didn’t specify new, everyone would bring stuff from basements and garages–melted crayons, water-damaged notebooks, etc. The water damage is the biggest problem (it doesn’t matter if you specify “new,” tons of people bring this crap anyway, meaning if you didn’t specify it would be ten times worse), and we get stuff all the time where we have to worry about mold and allergies and so on.

  16. JJFIII says:

    But the right wing tells me teachers are loaded making six figures salaries and health benefits to die for with huge pensions and plus they only work 6 months a year and don’t even need college degrees and nobody is learning nothing anyways, and they only have 6 hours a day to work.

    • frank64 says:

      Where did they say that teaches make 6 figure salaries? The unions are very hardline when it comes to any even reasonable increases in health care costs, why not at least make their contribution about what the private sector pays. Same for pensions. It is not just the right wringers who are trying to fight back. Many local Democrats feel the same way, they try to do it softly though, because fighting the unions is a battle most don’t want.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Teachers have to be both the parent and the teacher these days, these days it is so much more than just teaching the daily lessons. Since parenting is all but lost in this country and school is thought of by a lot of parents as free day care the burden falls on the teachers to both teach the kids academics but also to teach them life skills and other things that were once taught by the parents, but now are not being taught by the parents. The amount of responsibility placed on a teacher is just incredible, its more like raising a whole classroom full of your own children for the time they are in schooll. Last time I checked teacher’s pay isn’t very good, layoffs are common and pay cuts and health care cuts are common as school budgets get cut more and more, and a college degree is required, at least over here.

      • Peri Duncan says:

        Outrun1986 nailed it. I was an 8th grade teacher for 11 years. When I was burnt-out to the point of no return, I left. The primary reason? The parents and their inability to parent: hold the kids accountable, make excuses for the kids, lie for the kids, enable failure, want rewards for effort and not achievement, teach them how to behave, etc.

        Salary is relative to the area. I made a decent living once I got my Masters Degree and taught in Southern California. When I moved to Virginia, the cost of living went down about 20%, and my salary went down about 35%.

        • Peri Duncan says:

          Oh. And I spent about $2000 of my own money each year for classroom supplies or to provide things like calculators for the poorest algebra students.

        • Outrun1986 says:

          Mind you, I am not even a teacher and I know this.. Some parents do genuinely parent their children, but when the class is catered to the lowest common denominator the children are not learning anything and the smart children end up very, very bored and thus end up hating school because they are not being challenged. No wonder many other countries are outpacing the USA in education. The school also doesn’t enable parenting to be effective when the child is not doing their work or could clearly be doing better but just doesn’t want to. Over here children are not allowed to get a Zero grade, many years ago a child would get a zero and get scolded by the parents, punished and the zero’s would not continue. My cousin’s parent wanted their kid to get a zero, so it would show the child that they were not putting any effort into their work however they were not allowed to give that grade. They have to give a certain grade to push the child along or some crap. She was simply doing her job as a parent but the school did not allow the parenting to be done, therefore the child knows they cannot get a zero, and will perform at the lowest common denominator simply because they know they can coast through doing the minimum, instead of trying to do better so they can better themselves and their grades.

          I was in the school system myself, albeit a while ago, a very large part of my schooling was devoted to teaching students how to pass a test, and taking tests from past years, instead of teaching actual material, especially in high school. Probably much worse now. There was also a ton of repeat information, pretty much the first 2 months of every year was devoted to reviewing what was learned in the previous year, heck the new content probably didn’t even start until after Xmas break! Both of these things made school incredibly boring.

          • DrRonIsIn says:

            The review is because we still have long summer breaks even though research shows that this causes students to lose ground and require that previously taught information be repeated.

        • frank64 says:

          The start of this thread was from JJFFIII who went to the right wing. The thing is it isn’t the right wing that is the cause of the problem, it isn’t really money either. It is the parents being bad parents. It is much more to do with the left wing that make excuses and enable this type of behavior. Throwing money at it is a band aid and not a long term solution. Labeling any solutions as right wing and calling it mean, or selfish hurts the children because it diverts discussion of the real problems.

  17. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I know WalMart is the devil incarnate, but at my local Super Center, they have some pretty good back to school deals in August. I got single subject college ruled spiral notebooks for as little as a nickel. So Staples isn’t be be all and end all for school supplies. Maybe she could go to WalMart as well?

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      For at least the last few years Target has had notebooks for a dime and 24-packs of crayons for a quarter towards the end of the summer. Even after school started they had piles left. It’s not a penny, but it’s not bad either. And they’re good notebooks, not the tissue paper kind someone mentioned upthread.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        The notebooks I got for a nickel are good and sturdy. I use them for my “bill books”. Yes, in this day and age I manually keep track of money going in and out in a written ledger.

  18. grikdog says:

    Teachers that teach in poverty schools need to be able to supply their students with materials. Their parents don’t buy them. The schools don’t provide them. The students have to have materials end of story.

  19. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I think the offer for in store credit was very generous. I appreciate the OP’s job and generosity to much to say everything I am thinking.

    • exit322 says:

      And it’s effectively the same price you were paying already if you were going to spend the money there later anyways.

  20. kobresia says:

    It’s really awesome of Staples to do this sort of thing in the first place, but they’re not a charity.

    Teachers should absolutely NOT have to spend their own money to buy school supplies for their students. They should either be given enough money to buy classroom supplies (including basic consumables to be given to students, if necessary), the districts should find ways around needing basic consumables, or the districts should otherwise find ways to get those consumables directly to low-income students with subsidies like free/reduced lunches.

    The real people to point fingers at, if we must complain, are the ones who are being irresponsible and starting families when they can’t even support themselves, so they expect everyone else to pay for their kids. There should be no need for subsidized lunches because the kids would starve otherwise, or subsidized school supplies because the family can’t afford shoes for their kids.

    I know there’s some element of virtually inescapable cycles of poor life decisions associated with poverty, which makes it a self-propagating trap that consumes nearly everyone born into it, but seriously? Having children is an inherently selfish and egotistical choice, no matter how much people want to rationalize it. It has serious implications to both the lifestyle of the parents and the upbringing of the children, making it harder for the parents to ever meet a semblance of “getting by” and dooms their children to emulating likewise regrettable, thoughtless choices because it’s the only way of life they know and their role models for daily life are pretty incompetent.

    Note: I’m not bitching about people who find themselves suffering a change in life circumstances, who made what was probably a reasonable choice to have kids at one time and then found themselves unemployed or whatever. I’m talking about folks who chose to have children when they simply couldn’t even support themselves to begin with, which describes the demographics in a lot of these “impoverished” school districts.

    • PigEbank says:


      2010 performance highlights

      Our focus now is on creating more opportunities for our associates to engage with their communities worldwide, and achieving more coordination, knowledge sharing — about outreach and best practices — and consistent reporting about community relations among all Staples business units worldwide.

      To those ends, in 2010 we conducted extensive research and analysis of our community relations programs. We surveyed both associates and customers about what matters most to them when it comes to community engagement and where and how we can have the most impact.

      Among other achievements, we:
      •Donated more than $25 million to non-profit organizations around the world through the Staples Foundation, corporate charitable giving programs and cause marketing efforts
      •Enabled associates globally to direct more than $1.5 million to organizations they personally care about and support
      •Held a Community (Service) Day where associates from nine countries participated in volunteer activities in their communities
      •Increased the success of the annual back to school cause marketing program, the Staples/Do Something School Supply Drive, by putting more than $800,000 worth of school supplies into the hands of youth who need them
      •Provided character and leadership development opportunities for nearly 20,000 youth — a five percent increase in the number of youth served over the previous year — by continuing our U.S. partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America

  21. sparc says:

    all the office store rewards programs are a scam. Rewards expire, it’s store credit, and you have to wait to get the money back.

    I’d rather at least get rebates since they give you back cash. The rewards are worthless unless you are very obsessive about keeping track and spending it.

    • sparc says:

      oh and they cost of the items are marked up high so you end up paying way too much for the product upfront like the OP experienced.

  22. sjgarg says:

    OP: Why not pool your money with some from your close teacher friends who are like-minded and purchase supplies in bulk from Costco or another source?

  23. Jawaka says:

    You know, I personally don’t care for Staples but wtf?

    “I want other consumers to know how Staples has stopped supporting educators.”

    Really? So if Staples doesn’t sell you things for a penny it means that they don’t support educators?

    How about this, if you were only purchasing the penny items then Staples really didn’t lose a very important customer.

  24. dcatz says:

    Public schools have plenty of money. Take the time to audit your state’s budget sometime.

    The problem is that pretty much every school district is run as a giant money laundering operation. Between rewards for political allies, overpaid bureaucrats and administrators, and backroom deals with companies that sell overpriced educational products like textbooks, the money gets funneled away.

  25. dandadan says:

    No company can stay in business selling items below cost. That is a fact. After this teacher had taken advantage of the store for years, she quits shopping there because it is trying to stay in business. This goes to show how loss-leaders are not always the way to promote business. Her entitlement attitude is another reason that old sales techniques are no longer valid in today’s retail environment. Loyalty cards and lowering overhead (not so many low-performing stores) may be better ways for businesses to slow down their demise, albeit only temporarily.

    The real issue here is teachers. They attempt to teach antiquated material from an antiquated obsolete system. Sure you can say it’s not their fault, but it is. They work for a bureaucracy that is self-serving (remember the way LAUSD covered for the teacher and his special cookies). Incompetence runs from top to bottom. Here is my solution.

    Disband all public schools, fire all the teachers and administrators. Then sell off all the wasted land used on schools for condos, housing and commercial uses. With the money, assign an iPad or laptop to every student (hold the parents responsible for the computers). Let the kids learn online all the BS crap they teach in schools. The local communities can then utilize the funds saved by the bulldozed school system to organize social and sporting activities. The funds generated by selling the wasted land could create a self-funding foundation to promote modern positive education of our children on a local level. We could have local as well as minimal federal standards. Now what we could do with all the school administrators and teachers:

    The foundation could build re-education camps for these useless souls. The teachers and administrators would be fed LSD and locked away until they see the light. After that they could be trained to pick fruits and vegetables in the fields or become artists.

    That is a simple, viable solution that would eliminate teachers unions (who don’t care about children anyway) and create a massive cash surplus for local communities to properly educate kids and we would be rid of the awful public school system and the incompetence is portends.

  26. Libertas1 says:

    The teacher can just not go out of pocket for supplies. Just don’t buy them. Problem solved.

  27. IraAntelope says:

    Staples promoted a dell pc at an attractive price, but when I tried to order one online, they were “out of stock”. they then gave a list of stores in my area where the pc was available…at full price.