Memory lane: Back to school shopping in the ’80s

Memory lane: Back to school shopping in the ’80s

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s August 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here

article by Rebecca Stewart

Back to school shopping, such a special, bonding time between a mother and her children. The supplies, the clothes…It’s glorious. Especially when your kid wants to try zero of the clothes on and rolls her eyes at every piece you pull from the rack, or he drops his one hundredth, “I don’t care,” of the day. It’s fabulous. Or when you have to drive to three different stores to cross off every last item on the supply list. Good times. Every year, you swear you’re going to purchase supplies all summer long to ease the pain of that budgetary hit. Best laid plans. Perhaps we can take some comfort in knowing that this, too, can be filed under yet another circle of life situation. Meh.

The basic script of back-to-school shopping might not change much as time marches on, but otherwise, things have changed – a lot – since we were kids. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see how things used to be…

Back to School Shopping: The ‘80s

  • I grew up in Laurel, MT so our school supply shopping was done at Ben Franklin, Walmart was not yet a thing in these parts.
  • Among the must-have things were sturdy cardboard pencil boxes (that were not so sturdy by the end of the school year), trapper keepers, and plastic lunchboxes with matching thermos (just Google “popular ‘80s lunch boxes” and cruise the images for the ultimate trip down memory lane).
  • Then it was off to the mall where an actual salesperson would measure our feet and help us find just the right size of this year’s saddle shoes and tennis shoes.
  • Hitting the stores for clothes, we’d be looking for stonewash jeans, Hypercolor shirts, fluorescent anything, and more than one pair of stirrup leggings found their way into my wardrobe. And we would be remiss if we didn’t at least give parachute pants a shout out.
  • To perfectly accessorize: banana clips and scrunchies, swatch-watches and jelly bracelets. Oh, and don’t forget to fold and roll your jeans legs!
  • Book covers were constructed out of paper bags from the grocery store. Now, kids are more likely to be given workbooks rather than an actual hardcover book.
  • In elementary school, there was none of this finding out your teacher ahead of time, you got to school on the first day, and nervously wandered from room to room, searching for your name on the list that was hanging on the door.

Just imagine what our children will be laughing and cringing over (or wistfully longing for) in 30 years. Share your childhood back to school memories with #SFMbacktoschoolmemories.

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