The school year is about to begin again, in person and for real, it seems. Given that this time last year meant a stay-at-home, online-only start for many Oregon kids, it feels like a moment to reengage in the annual tradition of stocking up on school supplies. And this year, there are extras on the list, with masks and hand sanitizer added to the crayons and folders staples.
If you are getting somebody ready for school, you can stock up and support some local Portland business in the process. Read on for our list of back-to-school essentials and the Portland businesses where you can find them.
This southwest Portland business makes bags to withstand all the kinds of weather Oregon can throw at us. Their PDX bag is waterproof, which protects student’s laptops, paper notebooks, and homework from getting wet and destroyed. The bags are also made to hold up against years of use or abuse—perfect for middle schoolers—and come in three sizes.
Face masks are now high on the school supply list, particularly following Gov. Kate Brown’s mask mandate, and local maker Dana Herbert has sizes to fit smaller faces, with an array of fun patterns to match your kid’s particular tastes.
Portland Leather offers a zipped leather pencil case for writing supplies and other small trinkets that’s durable, sleek, and comes in various colors from nutmeg brown to cranberry red. (Heads up, Portland Leather also stocks a number of backpacks.)
With North Alberta and Division Street locations, Collage is a perfect stop for any craft and art supply needs in addition to school supplies such as notebooks, calendars, and pens. They also carry a range of daily planners, including the 2022 Agatha planner, for students to keep track of their homework and to-do list for the week, as well as a monthly calendar pages to stay on top of deadlines.
Kids are going to need to stay hydrated during school and water fountains are a COVID no-no, so Lake Oswego-based fifty/fifty’s 40-ounce bottle is a great option for students. It’s large, but that means fewer trips to the water fountain and more hydrated sports practices. It also comes with a three finger lid making it easy to carry it around.
Notebooks are a back-to-school essential and Little Otsu’s Mnemosyne 199 notebook is a great locally-sourced option. It boasts 140 pages with a date and title header—while you’re at their Division Street store, browse the array of pens and pencils so your kid can fill it with color.
SCRAP Creative Reuse receives donations of various used school and office supplies, and sells them at extremely affordable prices. You can get all the folders you need by picking up a pack of 10, that sells for $1. You’ll be able to load up on supplies here, not break the bank, and leave feeling good about redirecting waste from the landfill.
Backpack full? Now you’ve got to dress them up for the daily wear and tear of school. N Mississippi Street’s Black Wagon offers apparel for up to 14 years old, with quality tops, bottoms, rompers, and more. A favorite from the store is the Nightingale sweatshirt that works for all genders and can keep your child warm once the cold months set in.
As school begins and fall sets in, kids may be in need of extra reading material. Green Bean Books’s Jennifer Green had some recommendations. For third to fourth graders? “Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson—set at Vernon Elementary School—a new heartwarming series with local roots and a strong African American female protagonist being compared to Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby! The second book in this series also just came out, Ways to Grow Love. For older kids in the 6th-8th grade range, she recommends Black Boy Joy, a collection of 17 stories by Kwame Mbalia. “This book offers a collection of short stories, comics and poems that celebrate the joy and wonders of Black boyhood and is written by 17 awesome Black male and nonbinary authors!”