Retailers bug teacher during vacation

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2003

My college roommate happens to be visiting this week, and I must admit her visits are always quite eventful. Not only is she charming and witty, but she often makes keen and profound observations about our society.

Her most recent opinion was the topic of discussion last night. As my former roommate, all-around best friend and award-winning, nationally recognized, board- certified middle school teacher (with more degrees than God) she has earned my respect. So, I often give her observations their due consideration.

While on a recent visit to a local Target store, she became completely unnerved. As she strolled through the store, she noticed all seasonal patio furniture and garden grills had been moved to the clearance isle to make way for &uot;BACK TO SCHOOL Supplies.&uot; Yes! That’s right: &uot;BACK TO SCHOOL Supplies.&uot;

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Now, Sherry being the devoted and loving teacher that she is, would normally be elated by the vision of new three-ring binders, spiral notebooks and brightly colored markers. But no, not this time. She was enraged.

She just got rid of the &uot;stinking brats&uot; (she told me with a joking smile). And now, she finds herself totally bothered and bewildered by the gall of the retail industry to capitalize on her brief, and ever precious, summer vacation.

For pete’s sake, summer vacation just started and the big box retailers are already prepping for big &uot;Back to School&uot; sales. Moreover, most teachers are required to work the week after school ends to clean their classroom and submit year-end grades. So, for many teachers, they have been out of school little more than a week. That’s hardly enough time to regain their sanity.

Not only is Sherry disgusted by the display of back to school supplies at Target (and right out in the open where every parent within 10 square miles can see them no less), but she is also totally annoyed by the advertising campaigns &uot;Staples&uot; office supply stores will soon begin. The reason she is so distressed is because the commercials feature parents gleefully skipping down the isles and isles of school supplies, rejoicing in the knowledge their little bundle of love and joy will soon be returned to the loving care of their school teachers for another year of educational enlightenment.


The parents are happy, elated in fact, to get the long-awaited relief the new school year brings. As little ones climb aboard the school bus and ride away for another year of learning, parents all around the world are jamming to the song &uot;Freedom&uot; by George Michael as they express their gratitude for the concept of &uot;school,&uot; as not only do their wee ones learn, but the house is left empty for at least eight hours a day and order is once again restored to the &uot;kid-destroyed&uot; homes and yards of these weary parents.

Sherry now believes all marketing professionals and advertisers promoting back to school sales in July should be shot. They have now taken all joy and the comforting sense of back to school denial she once thrived on, and have now made it a constant reminder of days yet to come when the school bell rings once more.

Perhaps Sherry’s reaction is a bit severe, but she is on to something.

Seriously, our society is going to get to the point where we shop for Christmas at Easter; and we buy Halloween costumes during St. Patrick’s Day.

It comes down to the almighty dollar.

I am just now thinking about buying some new patio furniture, but unfortunately for me I have lost my window of opportunity. Sure, I can buy mismatched pieces on clearance at Target – but Sherry would likely kill me since I would be helping make way for pencils, backpacks, lunchboxes, and other back to school paraphernalia. And, since I value our friendship (and my life for that matter) I will forgo the patio furniture this year, avoid the school supply isle at Target, and help her achieve the mental state of back to school denial she seeks. Well, at least until Sept. 2, when school convenes once more.

Rebecca Hill is the advertising director and a regular News-Herald columnist.