Growing up in the deep south (Southern Africa to be precise), “back to school” shopping was easy – and rather boring. We wore uniforms to school that one department store in our town always stocked, and that store also sold everything else we needed: shoes, backpacks, books, stationery and the rest. 

It was, literally, a one-stop shop.

School kids and college students have it lucky – even if us parents don’t. There’s so much more gear they need and so many more stores in which to get them from.

To help prepare for the new school year, we present this handy guide for the best independent stores for back-to-school shopping in Loudoun. 



529 Kids Consign

Want your little one to bring the style to pre-K and elementary this year? Look no further than this upscale children's and maternity consignment boutique in downtown Leesburg specializing in the latest trendy garments. The store stocks more than 100 brand names from Adidas, Baby Gap and Brooks Brothers to Vineyard Vines and Vive La Fete and you can pick up everything from shorts, dresses, dungarees and skirts to shoes, coats, winter hats and more.


Ashby Mae Children's Boutique    

This upscale family-owned boutique in downtown Leesburg carries designer back-to-school items for all ages, from infants to high school to college kids. Pick up outfits from Beaufort Bonnet, chic girls blouses, tops and outerwear from Bisby and – if the college fund doesn’t get obliterated  – the latest, coolest Tsukihoshi tennis shoes from Japan.


Vintage Items

Graffiti and Silk  

Get excellent deals on second hand and vintage clothing, bags, purses and other items at this funky thrift store operated by Mobile Hope in Purcellville. College kids can decorate their dorm rooms with beautiful handmade rugs woven in-house, while high schoolers will love the embroidered slim fit and bell bottom jeans. There’s even a brand-new Fender Guitar on sale for the budding college rock star.



Books & Stationery


This boutique in an elegant Victorian building in downtown Purcellville has a wonderful range of decorative pens, colored tape for scrapbooks, postcards, notebooks, stickers to pin on bags or books and a range of cool posters to brighten up a dorm room. Lots of fragrant candles and creams too.



Books And Other Found Things

This classic independent bookstore in downtown Leesburg has a range of important novels on its shelves (Moby Dick, The Catcher in the Rye); best-selling biographies, poetry and science texts as well as hand-made leather-bound books perfect for sketching or taking notes. The shop also sells more ephemeral items such as decorative stained-glass pieces, cutting boards and even a selection of stuffed animals – perfect for the college kid who may feel lonely away from home.



Décor and Accessories

Mon Amie Amy

This sophisticated yet affordable Ashburn “lifestyle” store from Amy Weisberg features something for every high school and college-age student, from handbags, jewelry and clothing to candles, creams, home décor and gourmet foods.



Brick & Mortar

With outposts in Middleburg and Leesburg this ironic store has cool clothes and accessories (cowboy hats, sunglasses, canvas shoulder bags) as well as a range of coffee table books and gag-rich posters and coffee mugs emblazoned with lines like “I Miss You – But My Aim Is Improving.” How better to put a smile on the face of a kid who doesn’t want to go back to school.




Play It Again Sports

Young athletes getting ready for school and college sports make a beeline for this outrageously affordable second-hand sports emporium in Leesburg. Pick up football pads and helmets, lacrosse sticks, softball and baseball bats, golf clubs and every type of ball imaginable. They also sell new clothes alongside all the used gear. Play it again, indeed.