Buying back to school uniforms

PHILADELPHIA - August 28, 2012

Most families spend hundreds per child now, then more money when the weather turns colder. But families whose kids attend schools requiring uniforms spend far less.

We visited Flynn & O'Hara School Uniforms, headquartered in Northeast Philadelphia. C.E.O. Sean Flynn told us a family can outfit a child for the year there for under $200.

This is a busy year in the uniform business locally, because the Archdiocese of Philadelphia closed several parish schools and merged others last spring.

Most of the newly-created schools have new names and new uniforms. Some are allowing families to use last year's uniforms but others are requiring the new look right away.

Shopping is definitely busier in stores and on the company's website. Either way, you check in by registering your child's school and grade level. Then you're shown only the items for that school and grade.

The headquarters store in Northeast Philadelphia has on-site silk-screening and embroidery services, so customers can have products customized while they wait. But these services are also available by the web and purchases are delivered in just a few days...even during the back-to-school rush.

Most Flynn & O'Hara customers are Catholic school families, as it's been for generations. But a growing number of private, charter and public schools are going to the uniform "look" if not a full-on uniform, and the company accommodates them equally well.

All uniform items come with a school-year wear the product now and it'll get you through June, or you get a replacement free. That guarantee brings in families from schools that don't use uniforms. They like the savings and convenience.

Flynn & O'Hara's headquarters and main retail store are at 10905 Dutton Road, a short distance off Roosevelt Boulevard in the far Northeast. The phone number there is 215-637-4600.

There are 27 other retail stores up and down the East Coast, most serving families from their local schools. The company also has a website serving customers nationwide.

Log onto Flynn & O'Hara , register by school, grade and name and you'll see only the uniform items your child will need. Off-the-shelf items ship in a day or so, silk-screened items almost as fast, and custom-embroidered garments within a week in most cases.

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