Have you seen the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Staples commercial? It’s a sign … time to think about back to school.

This year, keep local for your back to school shopping. With Maryland’s Tax Free Shopping Week starting tomorrow, you’ve got a great incentive to hit up your favorite local boutiques and shops. From Sunday, August 14th through Saturday, August 20th, qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less are exempt from the Maryland 6% sales tax. {{SCORE!}}

We put a survey out to local shops that specialize in kids so we can help you navigate the back to school shopping spree. We’ve got the 411 on their current specials, favorite brands and what items they just can’t keep on the shelf. Not all of the merchandise mentioned qualifies for tax free, but it all qualifies to help you get your kids back to (cool).

Charm City Kids Club: Did you know the new hot kid spot in Lutherville also has a retail space? They’re running 10% off of all stock this August and have a nifty little lunch tote with built in chalkboard message board so you can easily write notes to your kids. The owners are in love with the personalized backpacks from Personalized with Luv. A customer favorite brand? Sassafras. They make great kid friendly cooking kits (pirate cupcake kit, alphabet fun cookie kit and pizza party kit). Not only is that a great gift item, but it’s a perfect after school activity to have on hand. Follow Charm City Kids Club on Facebook



The LilyPad of Towson: Check out this upscale consignment store in Stoneleigh for gently loved (and less pricey) clothes and new specialty items to outfit your kiddo for back to school. All of their summer merchandise is currently 50% off, and consignors save an extra 10%. They’ve also got you covered with Scout Backpacks, Sugarbooger Lunch Snacks and SnackTaxi reusable sandwich/snack bags. So not only will your kids have the coolest lunch accessories in the class, you’ll save $$ on brown bags and ziplocs. And help the earth. PS: While you’re there, pick up some MonkeyBar Buddies for the “gotta always wear a dress” princess in your life. Their slogan: “I see London, I see France, I can’t see your underpants” says it all. Follow The LilyPad on Facebook

The Monogram Shop: The Monogram Shop is offering 20-40% off ALL clothing from August 17th through August 20th. (They’re calling it better than Tax Free!). Stop by this shop on falls road to pick up polka dot Mary Janes and Lily Pulitzer lunch boxes. Some of their best selling brands? Olive Juice, Lily Pulitzer (of course) and Castaway Clothing. You’ll find all sorts of personalizable items – including Madpax backpacks! They come in 3 sizes. Who doesn’t love Dinosaurs? Follow The Monogram Shop on Facebook

Trohv: Although Trohv specializes in giftable items and all things for the home, they have a fantastic children’s selection! This Hampden boutique isn’t running any sales this August, but their merchandise is consistently well priced. What do they think your mini-me needs for back to school? Mustaches (who doesn’t need to go incognito?). They also stock a fantastic collection of fun notebooks, pens and Russell + Hazel binders. We discovered — and fell in love with — Riley Roos shoes for the Bug on one of our first Trohv shopping experiences a few years ago. Perfect for the baby and toddler in your life. Follow Trohv on Facebook

Wee Chic of Green Spring Station: Your area source for a ton of our favorite kids’ clothing lines — including Tea Collection. Modern, fun and comfortable for boys and girls up to size 8. The pieces mix and match to make getting ready for school a no-brainer (yes, please). Be sure to check out Mayoral while you’re there. Although Mayoral is new to the states but has been a mainstay in Spain for many years. Fall 2011 hits hard with twill riding pants, faux fur vests, and great cowgirl chic dresses for girl. Boys get killer plaids and cool layering sweaters to ring in the school year. Two uber chic events to keep on your radar screen: Wee Chic is offering free photo mini-sessions with Laura Black of Laura Black Photography for two days mid-month (yes, FREE!). And Wee Chic is introducing a new resource program for expectant moms this Fall. Mommies-to-be and future first time grannies can meet and mingle with local experts in nutrition, design, healthcare, safety and more in a casual “mocktail” party setting. Check out the September issue of Baltimore’s Child for more details. Follow Wee Chic on Facebook

A few area stores didn’t have a chance to respond to our email survey, but should be on your radar list: Urban Baby Runway in Hampden, The Corduroy Button in Fells Point, The Pied Piper in Cross Keys, and Belle Bambini in Quarry Lake.