Anyone else ever see stationery that looks eerily similar in different stores and brands and wonder if it came from the same factory? Sometimes I’ll see some stationery like pens that look exactly the same as a more expensive brand and the packaging even looks the same (just a different brand name). On a recent trip to Kmart I saw so many dupes that I thought it was time I did a comparison.
Kmart’s cheap stationery versus more expensive brands: Which is better?
Kmart is an Australian only store so apologies for my readers in other countries. I hope you still find this post somewhat helpful as you might see some familiar brands that I’m comparing the Kmart stationery against in this post, which could help you decide if it’s worth spending more to buy them.
anko Dual dot marker pens
Kmart’s own anko brand has dot markers in very nice rainbow colors.
The Tombow Play Color Dot markers are also very nice rainbow colors but they can only do 1 dot size. I didn’t think it would be that hard to find true rainbow dot markers, but the Zig dot markers aren’t quite the ROYGBIV rainbow colors I like to use.
The Leisure Arts dot markers also have nice rainbow colors however cost 5 times more than the anko dot markers.
Similar dot markers
- Leisure Arts = $38.95 AUD (Carefully Crafted)
- Zig Kuretake Clean Color Dot = $41 AUD (Amazon Australia)
- Tombow Play Color K Dot = $25.50 AUD (Amazon Australia)
- Kmart’s anko dot markers = $7 AUD
As you can see there’s quite a price difference!
A reason for the price difference could be the amount of bleed through. I love dot markers but all brands are notorious for bleeding completely through the page you use them on, and have residue on the next page.
anko dot marker testing in my custom Plum Paper dotted notebook
Since Leisure Arts are the most comparable colors, here is their pen test for comparison in the same notebook:
About the same amount of bleed through for each brand.
Note: If you don’t want any bleed through onto the page below you’ll need to use a 160GSM dotted notebook. You can also place a ‘sacrificial’ loose piece of paper under the page, to catch the bleed through.
Winner: Kmart. If you’ve never tried dot markers before then Kmart dot markers are very affordable ($7 AUD) and the colors are great. I could do up to 4 different dot sizes depending on the pressure I applied, which is the same as the Zig and Leisure Arts dot makers.
I purchased the kmart gel pens on the right in the photo below ($5.50 AUD).
I also purchased the Kaco gel pens off Amazon years ago (currently $28 AUD for the 10 pack, $32 AUD for the 20 pack) and threw out the plastic packaging but this is what they look like:
Image credit: Amazon
Very similar pens and very similar packaging…
I did swatch the Kmart pens but that was a while ago on a rainy day. I’ve been reorganizing my office recently and now I cannot remember which of my dot grid notebooks I did those swatches in to take the photo of the swatches (oops). The pens wrote so scratchy and the ink colors were so dull, that I immediately put them in the donate pile (and have already donated them at the time of publishing this post, which is why I can’t redo the swatches to add a photo into this post).
The Kmart pens only come in a pack of 10 whereas the Kaco pens are available in packs of 10 or 20. Kmart did have pastel and bright versions though (I chose the bright version and that version is closest to the Kaco Pure Green pens).
Winner: Kaco Pure Green Gel pens. I’d rather pay more for quality. I’ve had these pens for years and the ink still hasn’t run out. They also write really smoothly
Every time I buy a new set of pastel highlighters and do a swatch test, it continues to fuel my theory that they come from the same factory… Look at the colors. Exactly. the. same.
I expected the Kmart highlighters to smudge but after giving the words about 10 seconds to dry I highlighted and… no smudging!
- J Burrows pastel 6 pack = $6 AUD at Officeworks
- Stabilo Boss Original pastel 6 pack = $15 AUD at Officeworks
- Kmart = $3 AUD
I can’t say how long the ink in each highlighter brand lasts for, but that might be why the other brands cost a little more. Cheaper highlighters tend to dry out after a year, even if you don’t regularly use them.
Winner: Kmart, as the ink for all of the highlighters look the same, I don’t think it’s worth spending more for the other brands.
A pack of Kmart’s anko erasable gel pens cost $8.50 AUD (only about $1 per erasable pens is a bargain!). So how does it compare?
The anko pens don’t glide very smoothly across the page when you write, although they erase easily and cleanly. I like that they’re retractable so you don’t need to remove a lid off the end of the pen to access the eraser.
The ink of the green pen is dark green which isn’t true to the color of the body of the pen.
The anko erasable pens look very similar to the Parkoo erasable pens however these aren’t readily available in Australia. A pack of 12 colors costs $42 AUD on Amazon and I’ve never seen them sold anywhere else in Australia.
The J burrows (Officeworks’ own brand erasable pens) which are twice the price of the anko erasable pens, are of similar quality to the anko gel pens (scratchy to write with and not very nice colors).
A more readily available brand of erasable pens, are the Pilot Frixion erasable. I’ve preached about these pens for years. Years later after trying multiple erasable pen brands, they’re still my favorite. They write smoothly, erase cleanly, there’s multiple tip sizes available, nice colors and you can get them from Officeworks, Woolworths, Coles, Amazon Australia etc. The cost varies depending on what size pack you choose (they’re also readily available as a single pen). An 8 pack is about $28 AUD from my sister’s planner supplies store, Carefully Crafted.
Winner: Frixion erasable. The Kmart erasable pens might be cheap but they feel very scratchy to write with and the colors aren’t very nice. I’m not sure how long the ink in the Kmart pens lasts, but I think it’s worth paying more for a better writing experience and nicer colors.
Kmart has a small selection of washi tape but I’ve never bought any. Why? Because the quantity on the rolls is so small, it may look like a cheap buy but it could actually be more expensive than buying more well known brands with more tape on the roll. If you only want washi tape for a few special spreads or themed spreads in your planner, then the Kmart washi tape would probably suffice.
I also wonder about the stickiness as I’ve tried other cheaper washi tapes and sometimes they’re not very sticky.
Winner: Depends on your preference, I prefer to pay more for reputable washi tape with more tape on the rolls
I purchased sticky notes from Kmart years ago and.. I ended up having to use them with washi tape. Which defeated the purpose of them being a sticky note. They just had no stickiness to them, the corners would peel up. I don’t recommend Kmart sticky notes. Instead, invest your money in some of the sticky notes I shared in this post: My favorite sticky note brands for planning
I know Post it Note 3M sticky notes can be expensive but they’re never let me down. They stay sticky for ages, come in plenty of colors and sizes. There’s nothing more frustrating than writing something on a sticky note, only for it to fall out of your planner.
Winner: Post it Note
Kmart often rotates their planner stickers so if you see some you like buy them.
These sticker packs are usually $2 – $4 each (the ones with foil cost a little more). I’ve never had any issues with a lack of stickiness. They stick so well that once they’re down you can’t reposition them.
Kmart’s transparent date stickers are one of my go to’s
I saw these sticker books recently and the alphabet stickers reminded me of the Simple Stores Color Vibe Alphabet stickers. Shame the entire sticker book didn’t have stickers like these!
The sticker booklets are cheap, but there’s a lot of awkwardly large decorative stickers which I wouldn’t use so if I calculate a cost per sticker sheet, it ends up being more expensive than just buying a sticker book that’s full of all stickers that I want
Winner: tie. Kmart planner stickers are good, there just isn’t a wide enough range of options available.
This one really depends on your personal preferences but a few things to note about Kmart planners:
- Typically only have monthly and weekly spreads
- Lack notes pages
- Lack goal planning pages (unless you are buying an entirely separate goal planning book)
- The paper quality is really bad – the pages are super thin and anything you write will ghost through to the other site
- Sometimes their planners are ‘undated booklets’ rather than a 12 month dated and sewn or coil bound planner
But they’re always ridiculously cheap! (usually less than $10 AUD). They’re a good option if you want a cheap notebook to draft / test out different bullet journal spreads, or if you’re buying your first planner. They’re also a good option if your child is reaching their later years of school to see if using a planner is a routine they’ll actually stick with, before spending more money on a better quality planner.
Some of my reviews of Kmart planners from over the years:
- Kmart Planners Haul (Australian Planner Supplies)
- Kmart weekly planner (4 page weekly spread)
- $2.50 Kmart Planner: Too good to be true?
- Kmart dot journal ($4 notebook!)
- Kmart Life Admin Bullet Journal (day to a page layout)
- Using a Kmart lists book to plan your week (planning by task, rather than by day)
Winner: Depends on your personal preference but I don’t recommend Kmart planners. There are hundreds of planner brands out there nowadays with so many layout options, colors, personalisation options etc. I’d rather spend more money and get something with better paper, nicer colors and more inside pages.
I’ve done more than 200 planner reviews on this blog, browse them all here!
Kmart stationery is very hit and miss. Sometimes you can find dupes which are just as good as the real thing, and then sometimes the Kmart stationery is so bad I don’t end up using it. If you want your stationery to last a long time, I’d spend more and purchase more well-known, better quality brands.
If you only occasionally use stationery e.g. if you mostly do digital planning but sometimes dabble with paper, then Kmart stationery would be fine.
More stationery shopping
- Planning on a budget: If I only had $50 to spend on planner supplies, this is what I’d buy
- Best stencils for bullet journal daily, weekly and monthly spreads
- Best highlighters for bullet journaling
- How to choose the right bullet journal notebook for you (10 things to check)
- My favorite cheap stationery for planning
More planning tips
- 7 Ways to quickly and easily cover up mistakes in your planner or bullet journal
- 50 Reminders to Put in Your Planner or Bullet Journal
- 5 Ways to get ideas for your planner spreads
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