We’re all friends here, so I’m going to let you into my “Chamber of Secrets ” Don’t worry—I’m not talking about something out of Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m talking about the nickname for our guest bedroom closet, named after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s where I keep my gift stash: for birthdays, Christmas, and “it’s time to get you out of Mom’s hair for awhile or CPS will be making a stop here” emergency toys.
Yes, I’m one of those people who shops year-round. Target toy clearance in June? All over it. Random markdowns when they’re clearing space for the next “must have” toys? Deal me in. Luckily my little has stayed true to the same likes, and I can usually predict what will make him happy, so I’m rarely burned by a purchase that is no longer wanted a few months down the road—and when that does happen, I save those toys to donate to holiday toy drives.
My Chamber of Secrets has all sorts of toys ready to roll for the holiday season, but my favorite stash is a huge box of books. My little loves books and is always excited to see a new title for story time. And surprising him with a new book is also a sneaky way to feed his love of reading while giving us something to do together, as he’s just starting to sound out words. Wondering how I’ve amassed a huge box of books? Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but my dealer of choice is the Scholastic Book Fairs warehouse sale.
Did the words “warehouse sale” make your heart skip a beat? Then we’re sister shoppers and need to dish on deals together. I love a good deal. Really, what mom doesn’t? Toys don’t grow on trees or in Santa’s workshop, so deals are a thrifty mom’s best friend.
The Scholastic warehouse sale is something I mark on my calendar. It’s a must for me, and I admit, I’m a bit addicted. Rows and rows and shelves and shelves of books, all new, just waiting for you to crack the spine and dig in. The warehouse sale is heaven for any book lover or the parent of any book lover. And it’s just off of IH-35 in Schertz.
Surprised? So was I. I had no idea that Scholastic has warehouses spread across the country or that they even conduct sales. I stumbled upon the warehouse sale through another mom, of course. (What don’t moms know?!) She told me about the sale and then said, “Don’t hate me for getting you addicted.” Just like any good dealer, she knew: one visit and I’d be hooked.
I’m sure you know the Scholastic name. We all grew up with book fairs and those ubiquitous flyers, brought home with glee as we begged our parents to let us buy whatever book/poster/tchotchke was a must at the time. Now our children bring them home in their backpacks, hopeful that we’ll spring for a few books/items, particularly those featuring their favorite characters. I have a love/hate relationship with those flyers. I love to see the new books, and like a moth to a flame, I feel the urge to buy. But as much as I love books, I love a bargain even more. So while I like to peruse the flyers, I’m OK with delayed gratification—and this is where the warehouse sale comes in.
Held two to three times a year, usually in May and December and perhaps with a back-to-school mini-sale in August, Scholastic’s warehouse sales are perfect for stocking up on gifts for your little or just about anyone. The books range from infant through teen, with everything from board and picture books to ‘tween fiction, as well as cookbooks, history books, adult fiction, and more. Clark the Shark, Hot Rod Hamster, Junie B. Jones, Fly Guy—they’re all there, as well as Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Star Wars, Legos, Barbie, Sophia, Doc, science, history, geography, and everything else cool that National Geographic puts together. And the warehouse has shopping carts and friendly volunteers to help you find what you’re looking for, making it so easy to wheel through the aisles and stock up.
Like most warehouse sales, you never know what you’re going to find. Prices start at 20% off, but most items are 50% off. Some items are discounted up to 80%, a sale sure to make any shopper swoon. Some things are $1 or $2, and there’s usually a “build a box” section where everything you can fit in the box they provide is a set price, usually $20–$25. When you consider that hardcover books can be $19.99 a piece, the box deal can be a boon—if you’re interested in the books included in that area. I have yet to build a box, but when my little is older, I can see that area being a real treasure.
Interested in checking this all out for yourself? You’re in luck: there’s a sale going on through December 19. The warehouse is open weekdays from 10:00 A.M.–7:00 P.M. and Saturdays from 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M.; it is closed on Sundays. By the way, there’s a smaller two-day sale at the Wyndham Garden San Antonio near La Cantera (6809 N. Loop 1604 West, San Antonio, Texas 78249) on December 18 and 19. The hours are the same as the Schertz sale.
The local warehouse is located at 5925 Tri-County Parkway, Suite 160, in Schertz. From IH-35, you take exit 175 (FM 3009) and get on the southbound access road. Take a left onto Tri-County Parkway just before Starbucks (so you can load up on caffeine AND shop—bonus!). Scholastic is in a white warehouse row on your left, usually with a big red Scholastic sign out front. You’ll drive down the side of the warehouse and park in the back before entering the building. If the weather is nice, the warehouse doors will be open. Don’t be shy—just walk on in.
A few things to know:
- Visit http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/warehouse to find warehouse sales near you (there are more than 230 across the state of Texas alone) and register. You’ll then receive reminder emails and coupons: $10 off of your $50 purchase or $25 off of your $100 purchase. Think that sounds crazy? Just wait. When you start filling out your gift list and stocking up for the littles—and the adults—in your life, you’ll be grateful for the coupon. By the way, credit cards, checks, purchase orders, and Scholastic Dollars are all accepted at the sale.
- If you know the titles or series you’re interested in, bring the names with you. There’s a huge binder you can look through that identifies the exact location of each book in the warehouse, telling you the row and shelf to find what you’re looking for. You’ll still want to browse through each aisle to find things you had no idea you needed/wanted, but knowing exactly where to find items on your list is terrific. If you’re not sure where to begin, you can browse Scholastic’s offerings online. You can even shop by flyer if you want to see books recommended by age group.
- Go comfortable. It is a warehouse, so wear comfortable shoes and know it can be hot or cold depending on the weather.
- Be nice. While this is a shopping opportunity for you, warehouse staff is working around you to fill orders and restock shelves. Book fair merchandise is constantly being prepped or restocked, so it’s busy. The staff is always courteous and will help you find items if there’s something in particular you’re looking for—they know the stock and have made great recommendations upon seeing other things I was buying. But they are working, so try not to disrupt them or get in the way. The people staffing the check-out area and help table are usually volunteers and are also extremely knowledgeable and helpful, so be nice to them, too.
- Don’t bring kids. You’re more than welcome to—and older kids will love picking out books—but if your littles are like mine, you’ll have to buy one of everything you see and stay in the warehouse until they lock the doors because we MUST. SEE. MORE. BOOKS. If you want time to browse and start building your own “Chamber of Secrets,” go alone.
So now you know my secret. If you happen to see me at the sale, just give me a knowing nod and keep on shopping, OK? And now that I’ve shared with you, let me know about any great sales or shopping tips you have for finding deals in San Antonio. There’s always more room in the chamber. Just don’t tell my little!