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Top Chicago Stores For Back-To-School Shopping

It never fails. The school year ends and summer arrives, but before you know it you're hearing those three little words that make both kids and parent shudder: back-to-school. For the kids it's because, well, who doesn't love summer vacation? But for parents, it's a little more stressful than that, and quite a bit more stressful on the wallet when you take into consideration all that needs to be purchased for the new school year. Whether your kids are fashion conscious or exude more of a chic-geek style, here are some of the top Chicago stores for back-to-school shopping that will make everyone happy.

School supplies... (Photo Credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Red Balloon
1940 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-9800

Originally having opened their doors in 1998 as a children's furniture store, The Red Balloon has done some substantial growing in the last 18 years. Now offering a wide array of not only children's furniture but also children's clothing, books, toys, and room accessories, The Red Balloon is where to shop when looking for more unique and individual clothes and personal items for your own kiddos. When shopping for back to school, choose from Chicago-related apparel items and personalized tees, and The Red Balloon has also got book buckets, play-sets and so much more for after school learning and fun as well. Located in Chicago's own Bucktown area, The Red Balloon also offers a give-back program to help support elementary and preschools in the Chicagoland area. As part of the program, The Red Balloon Co. donates a portion of your purchases to your child's school once that school is signed up.

Strange Cargo Tees
3448 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 327-8090

If your kids just don't fit into the preppy or athletic look and have no interest in carrying a Minions lunch-bag, then Wrigleyville's Strange Cargo Tees might be a better back-to-school shopping option. Sure, the "strange" part of Strange Cargo might indeed be unexpected for some, but for others this store is an absolute goldmine. Come browse a large selection of one-of-a-kind items that simply aren't available anywhere else in Chicago, or anywhere else in the world. Carrying anything and everything from custom T-shirts to whoopee cushions and a whole lot in between, your kids will be thrilled that they can go to school feeling like the sharp individuals that they are and not looking like everyone else in their classes and in the playground.

1359 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
(773) 276-1450

If your teens and tweens cringe at the idea of you doing their back-to-school shopping, a trip to Futurgarb might change their tune. Located in Chicago's trendy West Town/Wicker Park area, Futurgarb is much more than just a clothing boutique but a pleasant experience that won't even feel like shopping. Not only can you pick up some of the newest trends in clothing fashions for your little ones -- and yourself -- but they've got a great selection of hats, jewelry and accessories like sunglasses, wallets, scarves and more as well. Shop by season or by sale, Futurgarb has got everything you'll need to get the young-ins looking great, and with several ways to save on those items, too.

Related:  Best Places To Buy Shoes For Kids In Chicago

(Photo Credit:

Water Tower Place
835 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 440-3166

If you've been putting off back-to-school because you're dreading getting in and out of your car at all those different malls and shops, then a one-stop-shop is in order. Look no further than Chicago's iconic Water Tower Place for all of your back-to-school needs from clothing and supplies to getting the kiddo's eyes checked as well. Pick out new fashion favorites from stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, The Limited, Hollister Co., and many others, while also hitting up stores like Finish Line and Eileen Fisher for some new shoes to go with it all. And then when the tummy starts grumbling, stop into the Hard Rock Cafe, Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch, or the Mity Nice Bar & Grill for some lunch before heading back to the shopping duties once again.

Fashion Outlets Of Chicago 
5220 Fashion Outlets Way
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 928-7500

Back-to-school shopping can be awfully pricey. Between the clothes and shoes to all those school supplies, just thinking about it makes this time of year makes mom and dad dread it all far more than their kids. That's why it's best to find all the essentials whenever possible for outlet prices, and shopping at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in nearby Rosemont is the way to do that very thing. At the area's only two-level, indoor outlet mall one can catch deals in their 130 outlet stores including stores like Converse, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Calvin Klein, Ugg, and many more. The kids will love the new and trendy duds, and parents will love the outlet prices and savings - - - and that's a back-to-school shopping win.

Related: Ask A Chicago Expert: 5 Fun & Easy Science Projects To Do At Home

Soon after earning her BA in journalism, Melanie Falina began writing about one of the loves of her life - music. Since then, she's covered some of the biggest names in music, in addition to writing on an array of other topics as well. She has written for Black Belt magazine, KISS: The Official Authorized Quarterly Magazine, Examiner,, Yahoo Voices, and more, and was editor for Don Lemmon's KNOW HOW Book Three, Refuse To Fail. Melanie is also a poet with six published collections of poetry available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various establishments.

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