Now that school is officially underway, pool parties and lazy summer mornings may feel like distant memories. Though back-to-school-days may elicit the occasional groan (from you or your little ones), it’s a known fact that fun school supplies can offset any end-of-summer blues. And if you’ve waited to stock up—or your kids have just notified you of the hottest must-haves—you can likely score some great deals on pencils, notebooks, backpacks, and more.
475 Fifth Avenue between 41st & 40th Streets
New York, NY 10017
Muji literally translates to “no-brand” in Japanese, and that about sums up the company’s simple, elegant design scheme. Walking through Muji’s impeccably-organized flagship store might be the most soothing experience of your back to school shopping, so savor it. Muji is all about reigning in the clutter, and their clean designs will make even the messiest dorm room or backpack feel neat and tidy, thanks to basics like organizing trays and file boxes. Put an end to backpack chaos with their no-nonsense mesh pen and document case, or stock up on their simple binders made from recycled paper. Their stationery also has a vocal internet fan club and their sturdy notebooks will last through dozens of cursive lessons.
920 Broadway between 20th and 21st Streets
New York, NY 10010
This Danish variety store sells everything from burger paperclips to googly-eye notebooks, and releases 300 new stylish, unique, and remarkably well-designed products each month. Having long expanded past its first NYC flagship store, Flying Tiger now boasts multiple New York City and Long Island locations. This month’s slate of new designs is all about cute animals. Your kid is sure to fall in love with the llama lunchbox, fuzzy sloth notebook, camel snack box, or soccer themed pencil collection. You can easily take care of all your school shopping for the year at Flying Tiger.
15 Orchard Street between Canal & Hester Streets
New York, NY 10002
This specialty store is devoted to your very first writing device: the pencil. Selling pencils from Japan, Switzerland, and everywhere in-between, this tiny store will make you inexplicably excited about the humble writing tool. From organic recycled pencils, to pencils that double as highlighters, to colored pencils, to electrographic pencils perfect for crossword puzzles, this place is certain to fulfill all your graphite needs, and then some.
232 Fifth Avenue between Carroll and President Streets
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Run by Ann Cantrell, a former product developer for Ralph Lauren and Coach, this bright-green store is a regular playhouse for the imagination. While they offer plenty in the way of fun stuffed animals, this general store also sells some offbeat school supplies that will make your kid stand out in the schoolyard—in a good way! Options range from the Yumbox 6 Compartment lunch-box ($30.00), to the Safari Sketch Pencils ($10.50), to a “Drawing as Therapy” Sketchbook ($24.00) that can hold a serious collection of doodles. This fun spot may even inspire a new crafting project!
102 Smith Street at Pacific Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Papersource is the city’s go-to paper shop, and the perfect spot to stock up on planners, notebooks, calendars, and more. Give your test-taking teenager one of their elegant planners, or get your daydreaming doodler a set of unicorn pencils. While this place is serious about its paper quality, your child will appreciate some of its more humorous products, from the mermaid-tail pen to the “Llama Queen” water tumbler.
363 East 149th Street b/t 3rd & Courtlandt Avenues
Bronx, NY 10455
In a city where any street can change drastically overnight, Tannens 149 has been a constant presence since 1938, helping NYC students and parents take care of their school shopping in one go since before gel pens existed. This place is stocked with all manner of schools supplies, like locker padlocks, poster board, pocket calculators, and three-ring binders in every color. You’ll also find reasonably priced highlighters, Sharpies, index cards, and more, as well as dozens of school supplies you forgot to put on your shopping list.
There’s a certain sting that comes with going back to school after a long summer, but shopping for new supplies may help lighten the mood. Since your kids are hitting the books again, why not check out our recommended reading list, because after all the back-to-school planning you’re doing, you deserve to kick back and relax.