28 August 2010

shopping for school supplies, italian style

I asked a friend of mine to accompany me to the superstore nearby in search of Italian school supplies.  School supplies are different enough that the chance of me locating and purchasing the correct items is slim.  I enlisted an Italian's help.   She agreed to accompany me, but after a quick look at the list, suggested that a trip to a cartolibreria would be a better choice.

And this is how it went . . .
We parked illegally just in front of the very small stationary/school & office supply store, walked in & promptly greeted the owner and young clerk.  I handed over the list and the two of them proceeded to gather one supply after another, all of which were located behind their counter.  When a choice of color or notebook cover was needed, we were properly consulted.  If, by chance, something is incorrect, we just have to pop on in and trade it.  (The store is located conveniently across from the school.)  We finished in less than fifteen minutes, received a 20% discount card valid for this purchase and throughout the academic year, and made acquaintance with the owner of the conveniently located shop.  The car remained illegally parked throughout the visit without consequence.

Now, I am aware that the prices I paid at the family-run business are likely more than I would have at a store similar to Target or (God forbid) Walmart; however, there are times in life when small is better than big,  full service beats self service, and time is as valuable as money.

Later I'll attempt to share some details about those supplies, which, in fact, are not completely different from an American supply list.  I love school supplies, don't you?


  1. I fear for our budget when it comes time to purchase school supplies for Jericho. I can't help but sniff the boxes of crayons every time I walk by the school aisle. And God forbid I should "need" a new pack of mechanical pencils.

  2. Yes, we go to a small family run store when we are purchasing things for our home such as nails and so forth because of the customer service. The staff actually know what they are talking about too.

  3. I DO love school supplies!! And kudos to you for going with the family store! The service is always so much better because they actually care about their customers and wish to see you return!

    And yes, time is sometimes MORE valuable than money! You can always earn more money or sell something to gain back some money... but time, once it is spent, is gone forever!!!

    Can't wait to see the school supplies! :)

  4. Dana - I saw the book bag for play school -- I know what you mean!

    Kellyen-- We attempt to patronize family run stores. I think it's easier to do here ?!

    Tiffany -- The service is key, especially when there are language and cultural barriers.

    Have a great day all!

  5. Ahh, gotta love Italy. And I love shopping for school supplies, which I don't get to do for myself anymore. We were in Staples looking for something Mr. F needed and I ended up in the pen aisle. A whole aisle of pens! Guess I'll just have to wait for our own kids...

  6. And sometimes not having a choice (like with an entire aisle of pens) is the best thing going . . . doncha think?

  7. parcheggio selvaggio, you? I'm shocked:)
    9 km down the road we have a tiny cartolibreria, which opened in a converted garage (it's about 2 more kms to the nearest grocery store). When you go in, you're never too sure when you're going to come out as chatting takes priority over service. Hours are flexible, prices aren't very competitive, and often we get little gifts, like soap bubbles for Rebecca or nice and thick Fabiano water coloring paper (just yesterday!) etc

  8. I am here from Italytutto andit looks like I have just found a new Italy blog to read :)

    I love shopping for cartolibreria goodies, despite the fact my children are long grown up.

  9. Hi LindyLou Mac,
    Nice to see you here! I noticed that this post was featured on italytutto and wondered if it would send new readers here . . . and what do you know!


  10. I always follow up the top ten list, was thrilled to be featured there again this week :)
    The list of English language bloggers in Italy seems to be growing in leaps and bounds.

  11. i am so smiling about the illegal car parking - that cracks me up every time over here.

  12. Delightful blog! It's been years since I had to take a school supply list to the store and in those days there were not aisles of pens. the biggest decision was what picture would be on the Peechie folder!

  13. This year we did both the 'Target' version, where I went to CarreFour because they have the best prices on Quadernone and also bought from our local Cartoleria. No joke when I say my six year old had to bring in eight notebooks and my elder boy had 17. SEVENTEEN! He has eight from last year that are half filled. Then I had to buy eight more, which I did. Then I was asked for different sizes of squares and lines and a stock. I think I'm stocking the school. LOL!