How to Shop Small for Back-to-School

Cover Photo by Mike Petrucci via Unsplash

‘Tis the season! (No, not that one.)

It’s almost time for big yellow school buses, fresh pink erasers, and immaculately unscuffed binders. You guessed it! It’s time to head back to the classroom, virtually or otherwise. Even with remote learning on the horizon for numerous schools across the country, the back-to-school industry is likely to remain lucrative.

This year, the typical American household is projected to spend $789.49 in back to school shopping.That’s roughly a 13% jump from 2019. Between those heading to college and those heading to lower-level institutions, experts estimate consumers will spend roughly $101.6 billion in sum this year. (In case you’re curious, that tops the Netherlands’ entire Gross Domestic Product for 2018.)If you’re keen on the idea of spreading out some of those billions of dollars among more than moguls, keep reading for some ideas on how to shop small this back-to-school season.

To Keep You Focused

Page Eleven Paper Goods: If clean lines and organized schedules are your thing, head over to this Black woman-owned company for planners and journals that will get you pumped for the day’s work. (For more companies owned by Black entrepreneurs, check out this list from SHOPPE BLACK.)

Blurt: Are you in the market for some of the most adorable notepads, sticky notes, or postcards? Not only can this brand bring all of those items to the table, but Blurt also works to chip away at the stigma surrounding depression. (You can also purchase one of their BuddyBoxes for a healthy dose of self-care products!

Eco Collective: This Seattle-based shop pretty much has it all. From notebooks made with recycled materials to refillable fountain pens that help keep down your plastic usage, you’re bound to stumble across something you love. Sustainable options to use in your kitchen, your skincare routine, or during your next outdoor adventure also abound.

To Keep You Fueled

Five North Chocolate: If you’re anything like me, chocolate is an absolute essential for the exam season grind. (Or any season, really.) This yummy company uses Fair Trade ingredients and is LGBT-owned.

Dope Coffee: You know you’re going to need it! This business offers delectable roasts (we see you, notes of apricot and dark chocolate) and is all about elucidating the connection between your favorite caffeinated drink and Black culture. It doesn’t just end with coffee either — you can find candles, scrubs, and mugs here as well.

Séka Hills: This company is a go-to for both snacks, like hummus or nuts, and cooking necessities, like olive oil and honey. The business, owned by members of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in California, is dedicated to sustainable agriculture. (For more businesses owned by Native entrepreneurs, check out this list from Beyond Buckskin.)

To Keep You Fashionable

Joggo: In need of a new backpack before you hit the halls? This brand, whose name is a shortened version of the phrase “Journey to a Greater Good,” is a one-stop shop. In addition to producing their products in compliance with Fair Trade standards, the brand uses a portion of their proceeds to support education for refugees.

Sotela: From comfy outerwear to stunning jumpsuits, this made-to-order brand has you covered. The company was founded by a Latinx woman and works to promote sustainability and self-acceptance by shaking up traditional sizing guidelines.

Alivia: This brand offers vibrant and fun choices for masks, tote bags, scarves, and more. Wondering what inspires these great patterns? All of the designs come from art therapy work done by those with developmental disabilities. In addition to the ideas here, make sure to take a look at the businesses in your own community, too! Supporting local shops is an excellent way to fuel the places you love and connect with new faces.Do you plan to shop small this season? Let us know in the poll below.

Cover Photo by Mike Petrucci via Unsplash

  • Will you be supporting small businesses as you head back to campus?

    • of course!
    • no


Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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