North Carolinas final tax-free weekend the summer school-shopping holiday comparable in the retail world to Pamplonas Running of the Bulls is upon us.
Included in this weekends tax-free deal are clothes, sports equipment, computers and perhaps most importantly, school supplies. And it looks like students will need some new stuff to keep up with the latest back-to-school supply trends.
Whats hot? Todays Me generation is all about standing out, not blending in, so the more outrageous and cutting-edge the accoutrements, the better. Word around the locker is that neon colors and personalization are all the rage.
Staples public relations manager Mark Cautela confirms.
Kids are looking to be very personalized, to have their own identity, said Cautela.
In fact, one of Staples biggest new products, he says, is a customizable composition notebook. On the companys website, kids can select a design and add pictures and banners to the front to make the items their own, one-of-a-kind accessory. Folders can also be customized.
Cautela also notes that bright colors are very big, along with quilted zipper binders and basically anything that glows or lights up. Bold, bright graphics on every surface imaginable are in vogue. Folders, notebooks, pencil pouches and backpacks feature every color on the spectrum, often all together.
The bag and the box
The classics backpacks and lunch boxes still receive the most attention.
Josh Jensen, sales associate at Omega Sports in North Hills, agreed with Cautela that bright colors are huge right now.
They used to be plain black; now we get more bright colors like yellow, purple and green, Jensen said of the stores backpack inventory. Even the plainer backpacks have neon embellishments.
Jensen said the North Face brand backpacks that Omega carries are popular with older students because of their durability.
The Bright family, of Raleigh, has already been scoping out Target in hot pursuit of the trendiest bags.
Ethan, 10, only had two requisites for his perfect backpack: I like for it to look cool, he said. And it needs to fit a lot of stuff.
His brother Mason, 6, said hes totally over the character trend and is instead going for the tie-dye look this fall. Plus, Ethan warns that the plastic-front character backpacks tend to break easily.
The littlest Bright, Liam, 4, is starting preschool this year. He selected a backpack with a skeleton on it. It also had an attached keychain, a feature Liam desperately desired, despite his lack of keys.
Geometric or texturized designs adorn many school supplies including lunch boxes as do images of celebrities (One Direction, anyone?) and cartoon characters.
Whatever the design, moms and kids alike seem to prefer the soft, insulated lunch bags to clunky boxes.
They have to be big enough for lunches and snacks, said Leslie Horwitz of Raleigh, shopping for new lunch boxes with her 8-year-old twin sons, Joshua and Ryan. Theyre past the character stage. But they want to pick it out, to make sure its big enough and that it has enough compartments.
And finally, an especially popular product from last year that is expected to make a comeback is the locker chandelier, a small motion-sensor light fixture that hangs from the top of the locker. Aspiring interior designers can also soup up their locker lounges with glittery rugs, magnetic wallpaper and beaded curtains all to create a homey environment for those cool backpacks and lunch boxes.