The school supply aisle at Target used ot look like this. Now itís full of empty storage containers to send off with your college kid. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Last night, day three of school, we had two items my daughter needed for classes. Every year, I follow my own Raising Austin advice and try to shop early, but because I have middle school and high school students, I cannot predict that teachers will need things like a GREEN composition book and NEON dry erase markers.

We went on a hunt. First, we tried to avoid the crowd and headed to Office Depot. No luck. Then we headed to Target, which had already taken down the back-to-school section ó ON THE THIRD DAY OF SCHOOL. We hunted and hunted and found some dry erase markers we thought would work. They didnít say NEON, but they were neon-like. When we asked where the composition books were, the nice employees laughed at us and told us they had been sold out of those for two weeks.

We took a deep breath and headed to Walmart. There we found composition books that had green on them: a puppy in green grass, one with a geometric shape in white and green, and one that was all green, but hardbound. We bought them just in case. Like Target, Walmart was also turning over its school supply aisle for storage items for kids going to college. Hint: Going to College and Back to School happen at the same time. Make a plan to include both in your stores at the same time. Please and thank you!

Our final stop was at H-E-B. Who had the elusive GREEN composition notebook. Hooray.

Then we got home and tested out the neon-ish dry erase markers on a black surface. They didnít work. Back to the old dry erase drawing board.

So, Dear Retailers, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE keep your school supply aisles stocked through Labor Day weekend. Sometimes teachers add school supplies throughout those first two weeks. Sometimes parents canít get the supplies right away or need to wait to the first of the month for payday. Weíll all get along much easier if you donít make this ďIndiana Jones and the Hunt for the Elusive School SupplyĒ each year.

Thank you.

P.S. If youíre having luck finding what you need, tell us where you went.

]]