JACKSON — Since 1991, School-Pak has been gathering school supplies, putting together prepackaged kits and, at times, influencing the school supply industry.
The Jackson business is operated by Terri and Gene Schulist and was founded after Terri thought there had to be a better way for parents to gather the items on a teacher’s supply list.
The pair built a company that gathers school supplies, packages them up and mails them to parents well before the school year starts. Spring, rather than late summer, is when they are busiest with orders from schools and individuals.
In some cases, they even work with schools and parent- teacher organizations to make it simpler to
get supplies in one spot. This is the case with McLane Elementary School in West Bend, where every student in each grade level is able to get the same exact pack no matter who their teacher is.
After 26 years in the business, Gene has come to know the school supply industry well and has a story or two about what he’s learned.
“Many years ago, we were making the packs in Milwaukee, we used to buy product at Target before we could go direct to manufacturers,” Gene said. He explained crayons at one location were about a $1.39 for each pack and another in Milwaukee had them at 39 cents.
Shoppers can often find different prices at varying locations in the same area, even in the same chain of retail stores. The reason for different prices may not always be the same.
“I asked the store manager (about the price difference) and his answer was people out here have cars and
can travel and in Milwaukee they can’t, so we don’t have to lower the price there,” Gene said. He further explained that the same store later put notebooks down to 10 cents, but then increased the cost of markers.