Simplified: It's back-to-school season! I looked for the best deals around town on school supplies – here's what I found.

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Methodology time.

I based my in-person shopping search on the Discovery Elementary School third-grade supply list because, frankly, it's close to the top of the alphabet and seemed fairly average based on some quick online searching.

  • I shopped at Target, Lewis Drug and Walmart to get price comparisons.

One thing to note: Based on some online shopping of various regional elementary school supply lists, it does appear that the cost of supplies and the number of supplies required does vary some by school, and varies even more by district.

  • Harrisburg, for example, had an average cost of $106 per list, compared to about $82 in Sioux Falls.
  • Brandon Valley had the cheapest average school supply costs at about $72.

Ok, so where were the best deals?

If you're looking to do all of your shopping in one place, I have some bad news.

  • I couldn't find the entire supply list at any of the three places, but could find almost everything at all three stores. Dry erase board erasers were the hardest to find.

That said, the overall cheapest was Walmart.

  • And, for the most part, individual items were also cheapest at Walmart, including crayons, markers, colored pencils, two-pocket folders, tissues and Clorox wipes.

Target had the cheapest pencils and Elmer's glue (some lists specify the brand).

Lewis had the cheapest scissors at $0.99. It also came a close second – by a margin of less than a dime – with crayons, markers, colored pencils and glue sticks.

Any other takeaways?

I also realized quickly that if you're waiting until two weeks before school starts to do your shopping, stores are pretty picked over already. (This is what happens when you send a rookie parent out on the job).

That said, Lewis was the calmest shopping experience, and everything was close together within two aisles. When I was there on a Thursday afternoon, there was only one other family shopping at the same time.

I also didn't take into account any personal preferences or kid tantrums.

  • Based on personal experience, my soon-to-be preschooler talked me into spending nearly $5 on a pair of scissors because they had a cooler design than the $0.99 ones. C'est la vie.