By Sara Lugardo

With the summer coming to an end, back-to-school preparation looms over the horizon. Whether it’s elementary school or high school, preparation for going back-to-school can be expensive and stressful. However, there are some great ways to prepare for the school year without stressing yourself or your wallet. Avoid the cookie-cutter look of the big chain stores with these fun, funky area options sure to please any family.


1953 N. Clybourn, Unit F
Chicago, IL  60614
(773) 935-9999
Click here for other locations

Price: from $16

Each hair station at KidSnips features video games and movies to keep children entertained while these expert stylists snip away. Boat and car shaped novelty chairs keep younger children entertained during their cuts as well. KidSnips also offers toys and goodie bag treats to make each hair cut experience a happy one. KidSnips supports local charities through fundraising and haircut donations, find out more here.


Rock Hair Scissors
5508 West Devon Avenue
Chicago, IL  60646

Price: from $18/$5 bang cut

Toys, novelty chairs and hair accessories make this salon perfect for kids. All cuts include shampoo and blow-dry with specialty shampoos for kids they can pick out themselves. There is a special birthday program and email subscription that features discounted rates as well. Ask about the Belly Rewards card for additional discounts at this great area salon.

(credit: Sara Lugardo)

Once Upon a Child
4616 N. Harlem Ave.
Harwood Heights, IL  60706
(708) 867-8651

Back-to-school clothing can take up the biggest chunk of spending for most parents. Gently used clothing stores offer name brands with moderate prices but Once Upon a Child also buys back items for cash or credit toward purchases. All clothing is freshly laundered, in good condition and must have been purchased within the last five years. This is a great stop for back-to-school clothing for your elementary or grade school child that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Related: Best And Most Affordable Preschools In The Chicago Area


Plato’s Closet
4614 N. Harlem Ave.
Harwood Heights, IL  60706
(708) 867-2800

This is a one-stop-spot for gently used, brand-name apparel for boys and girls. The main audience ranges from tweens to college students. Enjoy same-day cash offers for all used clothing brought in to the store. Plato’s Closet even offers shoes and accessories for all of your back-to-school needs.


Pottery Barn Kids
Market Square Shopping Center
2111 North Clybourn
Chicago, IL  60614
(773) 525-8349

Back-to-school supplies mean much more than the same old box of crayons and No. 2 pencils. School supply lists vary between schools and grades, but there are definite ways to personalize your kid’s to make it stand out and last longer. Personalized lunch boxes and backpacks offered here can be used for future school years, a great alternative to keeping up with the always-changing favorite cartoon character or superhero.

(credit: Sara Lugardo)

3131 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL  60657
(773) 327-7127

Michaels is known for its art and craft supplies, making it ideal for exciting, alternative school-supply options. This is a great place to find specialty items for a fraction of the cost of pricey art supply stores or even big chain stores. High school students taking art as an elective will find everything they need to succeed this year.

Related: Best Childbirth And New Parent Classes In Chicago

Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives on writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on