Parents wait in line for hours to snag desks at North Thurston desk sale

LACEY, Wash. — First it was toilet paper, and now it’s office furniture.

With kids virtually learning this fall, desks and chairs are nearly impossible for parents to find. To help, the North Thurston School District on Friday sold some of its own supplies it had in storage.

Margaret Misenar drove all the way to Lacey from Monroe to make sure her kids have a proper work surface this school year.

“I got up at 3:45 in the morning and drove down, and so I was here at 6:10 and waiting and there was a ton of people already,” Misenar said.

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The pandemic is fueling a school supply shortage. Parents said finding a desk is nearly impossible.

“Not only can a lot of families not afford desks, but they’re also not available anywhere right now, like any of the big box stores. Ikea was sold out and everything is, of course, sold out online,” said Crystal Shoe, a mother.

The North Thurston School District had about 400 extra desks and chairs in storage, so it held a surplus sale.

“We thought, ‘What a great way to help parents?’ Because one of the things that is helping kids with online learning is having a quiet space where kids can do their work,” said Courtney Schrieve, North Thurston School District executive of community relations.

Word spread fast on Facebook. People sat in line for more than two hours, and traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see.

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“It’s worth it, absolutely worth it,” Misenar said. “They’ll be able to sit at real desks and have that mentality of, ‘It’s school, this is what you do, it’s not the kitchen table, it’s not the coffee table.’ So yeah, it’s amazing.”

Because it is a surplus sale, district officials said the state requires them to charge money, so each chair and desk was sold for $2 each. The cash goes into North Thurston’s general fund.

The district sold out of all its desks and chairs in about four hours. It hopes other businesses and school districts with extra supplies follow suit.