5 places to shop for back-to-school supplies in San Diego, California

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With back-to-school season in full swing, you’re likely penning that list of school supplies. Sure, you could hit up a local big box retailer — or, you could shop a tad smaller + quirkier at a few local gems. We’ll make this list for you: 5 spots that offer an A+ selection of supplies almost too cool for school. ✏️

🎨 Blick Art Materials, 1844 India St., Little Italy

This shop in Little Italy has it all for the creatives — from students and educators, to new + pro artists. You’ll find notebooks, sketch pads, a plethora of paints, stationary, books, and a selection of pens that’s truly on point. It’s open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Artist Craftsman Supply San Diego

Everyone loves a good school + art supply buy. | Photo via @artistcraftsmansupply

🖌️ Artist & Craftsman Supply San Diego, 3804 Fourth Ave., Hillcrest

Another one for the artsy students, this artist-owned + operated shop boasts supplies for drawing, painting, crafting, coloring, plus books, paper products, notebooks, and more. This location is among only two dozen in the US. It’s open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Carol Pankiw OOLY CEO

OOLY CEO Carol Pankiw at last month’s warehouse sale. | Photo via OOLY

🖍️ OOLY, 5607 Palmer Way, Carlsbad

This woman-owned, now-international arts + crafts brand is headquartered in San Diego’s North County and is known for its whimsical, colorful supplies. Peruse its back-to-school inventory online — spanning elementary, middle, high school, and even college — including pencils, highlighters, paper goods, cute scented erasers, and more.

Once in a while, the warehouse hosts big, in-person sales with deep discounts. At one of these events last month, a portion of the proceeds supported two local charitiesArtReach San Diego + Casa de Amparo.

Lakeshore Learning Back to School shopping

Lakeshore Learning knows its school stuff. | Photo via Lakeshore Learning

Lakeshore Learning San Diego

The Lakeshore Learning Store in Mission Valley. | Photo via Lakeshore Learning

🏫 Lakeshore Learning Store, 7510 Hazard Center Dr., Ste. 201

A favorite among educators, Lakeshore (yes, the same brand from those catalogs) has 60 locations across the US, and two locally — one in Mission Valley and the other in San Marcos. This retailer offers books, STEM toys, art and crafts supplies, classroom essentials, teaching tools, furniture + more.

Lakeshore is currently hosting its “Big Back-to-School Sale,” with deals both online and in-store. Both local stores are open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Daiso Japan Kearny Mesa

Daiso Japan has locations in Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa + National City. | Photo via Google Maps

🖊️ Daiso, 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Ste. A, Kearny Mesa

This retailer has 3,620 stores in Japan, but just three locations in San Diego County, each open daily from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.: Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa + National City.

Find traditional Japanese products, plus calligraphy tools, pens + pencils, origami paper, binders, notebooks, desk organizers, and all sorts of crafting supplies.

The National City store is located at 1420 E. Plaza Blvd., Ste. B1, and the Mira Mesa location is at 9420-B Mira Mesa Blvd.

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