Of the Baker City Herald

Back to school shopping can be kind of an ordeal, admits Denise Sieckman, the mother of a preschooler who insists on Wrangler jeans.

With another child, her first grader Josh Morris, in tow Tuesday, Sieckman was making her way up and down Main Street, searching for bargains for her growing children.

In the end, Josh found one item of clothing necessary for at least the first month of school a pair of shorts, which he purchased from Donnas New 2 You Clothing.

Getting new stuff is fun, he said, but shopping for it is sometimes stupid.

The Baker 5J School District will open its doors Tuesday morning to welcome students back from their summer hibernation. Other schools including Powder Valley, Huntington, Pine-Eagle and Burnt River are already in session.

As they have for generations, students back-to-school needs can be divided into two main categories: clothing, by far the most subjective and potentially spendy of the two; and school supplies, which thanks to the work of area teachers consists only of purchasing items off a checklist.

Teachers at each grade level, explained North Baker third grade teacher Kelly Gaub, meet toward the end of every school year to revise their school supply lists. The list changes almost every year, but only slightly, generally when new teachers come to the district.

Most area department and stationery stores, including Kings Discount Store, post supply lists atop the back-to-school aisle. That practice makes school supply shopping a snap relatively, said Kings clerk Kassie Meng.

They may have a list, but theres room on the list for them to purchase theme supplies, she said, pointing to notebooks, folders, memo pads and pencils adorned with horses by far the most popular theme, she said. People come in here and buy stuff like mad. Most people will come in with their children and let them buy anything they want.

One of the basic decisions older students must make, she said, is whether to invest more than $12 in a fancy notebook including datebook, subject dividers, and other niceties or $1.29 in a standard notebook.

It turns out experienced students choose the less expensive option, she said: middle school students snap up the expensive units, while high school students who often stash two or three notebooks in their locker opt for the discount model.

Once their supplies are in hand, students must turn their attention to how theyll look the first day of school.

When they come to school that first day, its on such a happy note, Gaub said. But we caution parents against buying too many clothes. It seems like they either outgrow them, or theyre out of fashion by Christmas.

At Emmas Drawers in the Basche-Sage Place Mall, owners Marilyn Gerry and Lessie Grogan tried to overcome that concern by staging a fashion show for young women last Saturday. Models displayed summer clothes from lines like Angie and Cute Options in order to, as Gerry put it, see if I had younger customers.

Response to the show, complete with professional photography and guitar music, was strong, she said so strong that she plans to augment her offerings with younger lines in the spring. The new clothes will complement clothes area girls are already buying Tribal sportswear and PJ Salvage thermal pajamas.

For students to deck themselves out from head to toe, the proper footwear is essential, and Karen Price at Powers Shoes said her sneakers have been selling well the past week or so. Practically flying off the shelves were Sketchers Athletic Shoes, which sell for about $50 and come complete with a plastic piece on the sole so that skateboarders wont injure their feet while they rail. An added Sketchers bonus: a keychain attached to the shoelaces.

Boys are still buying Airwalks, built-to-last sneakers that cost between $40 and $50. Girls were buying Aerosoles, which Price described as a funky brand of womens shoes in the $50 range.

Despite shoppers best-laid plans, those clothes that seem so important this fall might be worn a few times and then outgrown. Or, like the Velveteen Rabbit, they may fall out of favor. Those are the clothes, Donna Thibodeau of New 2 You says, that will be her bread and butter next year.

Weve had a lot of clothes come in the past two weeks, she said. People clean out the old and make it new for other people. Its amazing how nice a lot of this is.