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Retro School Supplies That You Can Still Buy

Social status with kids nowadays is measured by how many likes they have on their Instagram account or if their content is trending on Tik Tok. However, there was a time way back when social status was dependent on the school supplies that were brought to the classroom. The person who had the coolest design on their Trapper Keeper or the latest multifunctional pencil or the best smelling highlighter would be the most popular person in class.

School supplies have changed dramatically over the years. The school supplies that the kids use at school are much more tech-oriented, ranging from accessories such as stylus to ear buds with microphone to smart tablets such as iPads and Microsoft Surface. However, lucky for people who remember the 80’s and the 90’s, many of the retro school supplies that we used can actually be purchased online now. Everything ranging from multi point pencils to scratch and sniff stickers to Trapper Keepers is available on Amazon or Ebay. Let’s relive our glory days as students and take a stroll down back-to-school memory lane. 

1. Multi-Point Pencils

multi point pencilsBack when kids actually used pencils and pens on a regular basis for their school assignments and homework, these pop pencils were extremely popular. The stackable pencils were filled with lead cartridges in the plastic barrels. When the lead you were writing on became dull and difficult to write, just pull that lead cartridge out, push it through the back and a fresh lead tip comes out at the end. Voila! No need for extra sharpeners or dealing with pencil shavings. This means endless writing without having to find a sharpener. The pop-a-point pencils were also less complicated than regular mechanical pencils, making it easier for younger kids to use them. Mechanical pencils were awesome too until you got the wrong size leads which happened more often than not.

These non-sharpening pencils came in a variety of colors and designs and some of them were even scented with fruit smells! The nifty writing instruments had many names, stacking point pencils, stackable pencils, pop-a-point pencils, multi-point pencils, push point pencils, pop up pencils and the list goes on. Multi-point pencils are actually making a come back and are available for sale today! Some even include adorable toppers and come in pop culture designs such as unicorn designs, llamas designs, mine craft inspired designs and of course donuts and ice cream designs as well. Liven up your desk at work with some nostalgic push point pencils.

2. Retro Push Button Pencil Cases


Having the most elaborate and rare stationery item earned you some classroom cred back in the day. That is why the push button pencil cases were all the rage. The pencil cases were double-sided so there were compartments on both sides of the pencil case. Usually there were 5-6 different buttons per pencil case. The buttons made various gadgets pop out; a sharpener, eraser holder compartment, magnifying glass, glue holder compartment, tape, and sometimes a button will make the inside of the pencil case pop up to be a pencil stand. The more elaborate ones will also include a button for a thermometer and three dials to set the month, date, and year! Remember, this is before the era of the iPhone, so these functions especially the month, date, and year dial were important and considered so luxurious at the time! The tape dispenser pop out was also extravagant since only teachers and adults had access to tape. Therefore whoever had these push button pencil cases were the envy of many classmates. 

These retro push button pencil cases can be found on Ebay and various small online retailers for a hefty price, but it’s a small price to pay to walk down memory lane. 

3. Stamper Marker Set


Stamper markers are also a somewhat vintage item that you can still buy. These multi-functional stampers have a felt tip on one end of the marker and a pre-inked stamper on the other end. So kids can draw and doodle on one side and stamp out designs with the pre-inked rubber tip on the other side. This stamper marker set is actually much better than the original ones since the stamping area is much wider and the design is more than swirls and hearts. You can decorate your homemade greeting cards with these.

4. Drawstring Backpack

unicorn drawstring bagPeople who grew up in the 90’s will remember the drawstring backpacks that were ever present on the show Saved by the Bell.  Zach, AC Slater, and Kelly were always sporting one of these backpacks during school. These classic drawstring backpacks are simple, familiar, and reliable. The backpack does not have any bells or whistles but you can fit quite a bit in there. This nostalgic drawstring backpack can be purchased online. Some have retro 90’s doodle designs while others have adorable unicorn and llamas designs. This can be used for a day at Disneyland, Knott’s, or used as a shoe bag or dirty laundry bag while traveling.

5. Trapper Keepers

unicorn trapper keeper

One of the must-have items for back-to-school in the 80’s were Trapper Keepers. They were binders with plastic rings that slide apart with a tab. These plastic rings will start to get misaligned from use over time and won’t trap any papers or folders but people still loved them. The cool binders came in a variety of solid colors but also had designs such as palm trees, unicorns, and kittens. Some other Trapper Keeper designs had planets, football players and various 80’s zigzag designs. Trapper Keepers were the fundamental item in every backpack in the 80’s.  There are few listings on Ebay selling used Trapper Keepers for a high price but since schools are trying to cut down the use of paper at school, there is no need for three-ring binders anymore. However, you can also buy Trapper Keeper styled iPad cases and even a board game fashioned like the original Trapper Keeper!

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