Aug. 14, 2014 at 3:34 PM ET
Hunting for back to school deals on glue? Don't get stuck on office supply stores.
When comparing prices for glue, big-box retailers came out tops, both in actual dollar cost and per unit price. But if you're willing to take the time to go to the customer service desk, you can get the office supply stores to price-match or even slightly beat the big retailers.
Wal-Mart sells a 7.625 oz bottle of Elmer's Washable glue for $1.64 and Target sells it for $1.69, in-store only.
Meanwhile, office supply chains Staples and Office Depot are selling them for a bit more. Staples sells the 7.625 oz. bottle for $2.29, and Office Depot sells it for $3.12.
Peel back the numbers and that means Wal-Mart and Target are selling the glue for about 22 cents per ounce, cheaper than Staples at 30 cents per ounce or Office Depot at 40 cents.
Staples and Office Depot noted their price-matching policies when reached for comment. Staples spokeswoman Carrie McElwee said the chain had a 110 percent price-match guarantee in-store and online to match any brands with physical stores, including Target and Wal-Mart, as well as Amazon.com. Customers can get the price-match by going to the customer sbpopervice desk and showing them an example of the product with the lower price with the same product code. The store also runs a "Less List" with deals on essential school supplies. She also noted that Staples brand glue goes for 39 cents for a 4 oz bottle.
Office Depot and Office Max spokesman Owen Torres said the chains were "committed to providing value for our customers" and has been running weekly "penny deals" on core school supplies. It also boasts a 90-day return policy.
Big-box chains can be cheaper for school supplies in general, said Matt Ong, a retail analyst for Nerd Wallet, because "these retailers are comfortable with smaller margins, or that these retailers have negotiated lower prices with their suppliers than the office supply stores did."
Whether eyeing "doorbuster deals" at big-box retailer or an office supply store, however, make sure you're adding up all the prices on the school supply list first so you don't get trapped into spending more than you think.
"Retailers compete hard to offer some goods at extreme discounts to get shoppers in the door, then keep the rest of their item prices constant to protect their margins," said Ong.