Parenting war with Fancy dancey stationery shops

I have three girls who love a particular colourful stationery shop that has seemed to pop up into every large shopping centre over the last few years.  This store is are everywhere!    The girls love to go and explore the fresh notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, sharpeners, calculators, and other merchandise in each varying colour.    This store is very appealing to the young eye, and I have been told by one of my dear impressionable children that if you don’t buy your school supplies at this particular store – then your basically worthless!  As you can imagine, this no frills mummy, was not impressed by this untrue statement.

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I am a mum with an issue.  I have an issue with this particular store.  Yes its inviting.  Yes its pretty.  Yes I do love stationery, but don’t you dare try to rip me off.    I love notebooks and stationery.   Give me a beautiful bouquet of freshly sharpened colouring pencils and I will love you forever, but I have an issue with feeling ripped off by any overpriced store.

This store’s marketing and advertising has worked a treat on our young ones.    The colours entice our kids and draws them into a false sense of happiness.

When I buy school supplies, I am a mother who is looking for quality.  I am looking for items that will work for my child hopefully for the entire year – at least!.

Not long ago, one of my daughters decided to spend her birthday money at this store.   She decided to buy one of those battery operated sharpeners despite being told that she was wasting her money as it wasn’t made very well – you know ‘cheap breakable plastic’.   I had this feeling that if she was to buy this pink cheap plastic battery operated sharpener, it would not last long.    This child persisted and so because it was her birthday money, I decided to let her buy it.  I knew better – but sometimes kids need a bad experience to learn.  Little did I know at this time that this pink battery operated pencil sharpener was $19.95.

Finding the correct price for items in this store was not exactly forthcoming.   I was expecting this sharpener was going to be around the $5 mark.  I tried to reason with said child, but Bethany was determined to keep the pink overpriced sharpener.    It was one of those parenting dilemma’s.    While I was irritated that Bethany squandered money she should not have spent, she was as happy as a pig in mud – at the time of purchasing the sharpener.

I decided to say nothing, and watch. I knew that the sharpener was going to be used as ‘the family teaching experience’.  Bethany had basically used all her money on this one item.  The question was – Is the sharpener worth it!?

I have major issues with this store.   I am always stunned at how expensive the items are in these stores.   The prices may seem average when you have one child – but when you have a few like we do….it is far too expensive to shop there!

Bethany bought home her beloved brand new pink cheap plastic battery operated sharpener, and realised that she didn’t have any batteries.    I found one of the television remotes raided for batteries.   I said nothing.    Then I waited.    Literally, a couple of weeks passed and I found the precious item on top of a box in the garage.   The sharpener was broken.   I put the sharpener back on Bethany’s shelf in her room and waited.     I decided to say nothing.

I then found the sharpener in the recycling box in the garage.    I was unhappy – but I knew that Bethany had made the decision that she did not want to tell me that her beloved sharpener had broken.   It was unfixable.   I put the sharpener on the table.    When we arrived home from school, the sharpener was waiting for Bethany on the table.   It was time to sit the kids down and have a chat.

Bethany was upset.    She felt like she had wasted her money and she thought that I would never know that she had thrown it away.    Yes, her thinking was dishonest, but at the heart of the issue, Bethy was embarrassed that mum was right.   Sometimes I wonder how naive kids think parents are?  We have our own life time worth of positive and negative experiences.  However,  we had a chat.   She asked me to give her $20 to replace the money she spent on the sharpener.     My response to this was ‘NO’.    There were tears!  Not mine – Bethy’s!  I realise she was disappointed in herself for not listening and wasting all of her money, however the girls need to take responsibility for their actions and their decisions.   Bethy decided to buy the sharpener – she was advised not to buy it, and while it was a waste of money – it was a brilliant learning experience for all three of the girls.

I have noticed a huge change in the way that they think when it comes to money.   I have also seen a change in the way that they look at things that they are considering buying with their money.

This store may not know that this mere mum is at war with them, but I am taking action with my feet.   Two of my girls are Tweenies and  while our third daughter is not yet a Tween, she is greatly influenced by the two older girls.   School may be a competitive environment for who has the coolest stuff, but the majority of families can’t live up to that expectation – it comes down to feeding the family and getting the kids what they need in the most inexpensive way!

So, if you know me, you know that I love a bargain, and I love value for money.     I have found that while we can’t go crazy, Kmart has bought out a range of stationery items that look somewhat like the store in question.    Yes Kmart have limited colours, but they have similar items and for my kids they love that for $5 mad money they can occassionally get a few stationery items.   Coles has a number of items that Kmart do not have – a little more expensive, but not as expensive as the above store in question.

I have deliberately kept the identity of the store to myself, but the reality is that most mums – actually most human beings will know exactly what store I am talking about.   I know of someone who bought an entire colour range for their child for christmas not too long ago….hundreds of dollars were handed over the counter for this child to sport this brand at their school.  I have to say that I wasn’t impressed by this parents decision to buy into this brand – but they did!   I have since heard that the child was upset that many of the products (pens, staplers, sharpeners etc) did not work for very long.  The mother recently ended up replacing most of the items at kmart.

Funnily enough, this last thursday I was shopping for a sharpener.   I had gone to Big W as I needed to get something else that only Big W supplied   I was in the stationery – sharpener isle when my eyes landed on a battery operated sharpener.   There was one out of the packet.  It was sturdy.  It was a hard plastic.  The little sharpener was held in tightly, the clear plastic container (catches the droppings) was sturdy.   I had found the perfect sharpener.     There was no price, so I took the packaged sharpener and scanned it….and ‘blow me down’ guess what – the sharpener was $3.49.      I am very impressed, the girls are in sharpener heaven, and have sharpened every pencil in the house!   We have a lot of pencils and the sharpener is going strong.    The pink cheap plastic battery operated sharpener that Bethany bought has long gone….but I believe this new cheap sturdy one will be with us for a long time to come.    Its not about the colour – its about the value for money.