At 10:30 a.m. Friday there were three packs of notebook paper left on the shelf at the Wal-mart on Bobby Jones Expressway. At 10:45 there were two. Five minutes later the last one was gone.
The K-mart in North Augusta's sold more than 2,000 packs. It will probably sell twice that next week, said Bill Bonsor, the store manager.
"This morning we were really, really busy," Mr. Bonsor said. "You couldn't hardly get the buggies down the aisle in the back-to-school area."
All 300 feet of backpacks, books and binders were jam packed, he says.
Barbie's his No. 1 selling backpack. Then Elmo. And he sold out of Mickey Mouse last Wednesday.
Shannon Allen, 30, walked past Wal-mart's island of paper stacked 5 feet high.
Her cart was filled with Captain Crunch, a 12-pack of Coke, strawberry juicy gels, chocolate pudding and cheese crackers.
"We're just getting started," says the paralegal, as her 9-year-old son Rusty picks through the pens.
Like hundreds of local moms she was part of the Friday frenzy trying to get everything together before school starts.
Tuesday Eckerd's at Daniel Village was a wild, desperate crowd of shoppers, says Shannon Little assistant Manager.
They were snatching up bottles of Elmer's glue before she could put them on the shelves, Ms. Little said.
Friday was a little less chaotic, she said, but still busy.
Stores everywhere were filled with youngsters pulling things down and parents having to put them back.
"I need markers," Rusty said, swiping a pack off the shelf.
"You have markers at home," Ms. Allen said putting it back on the shelf.
An aisle over he presented her with a navy blue cloth lunch box.
It looks just like the one he bought last year, she told him.
"It's just a different color."
"It's cooler," he insisted.
"If you get one of these it's gonna be your lunch box forever."
"You won't like it. You can't squish this one up and put it in your book bag like your old one."
"I'll just carry it."
She showed him one that's more malleable.
He wanted the first one.
"If I pay $10 for a lunch box it's going to be your lunch box through your senior year in high school."
Fine, he answered.
"All right," she said. "That's your lunch box forever."
She steered the cart toward the toothpaste.
"Let's get out of here ..." she said.