Aug. 10--East Texas shoppers are ready to rush retailers for the tax-free weekend and the deals that come with it.
Big box chains and local mom-and-pop stores are bracing for the crush of customers, with many offering additional discounts and specials to draw in shoppers.
Ed Cox, manager of J.C. Penney in Tyler, said he expects thousands of shoppers to pass through his doors, with the largest turnout on Saturday. While the tax break brings people in, the deals offered in stores draw in just as many, he said.
"There will be a lot of people who are coming early to avoid the crowd because it will be an event, for sure," Cox said. "My head spins when I think about how many people will be here. We're just going to do our best to make everyone feel at home and we're going to have fun. It's a blast."
The Texas Comptroller's Office expects the tax breaks will save shoppers more than $90 million during the sales tax holiday, which runs Friday to Sunday. Shoppers will save up to $8 that would normally be collected in sales taxes for every $100 spent. The discount applies only to items less than $100 and savvy shoppers might want to check out the list of tax exempt items on the Texas Comptroller's Office website before hitting the stores to ensure items purchased are on the exempt list.
For example, baseball caps are exempt, but baseball cleats are not. Cowboy boots are exempt, but rubber work boots and rain boots are not. Jewelry, purses and accessories aren't exempt, but diapers, including those designed for adults, are.
Katie Thompson, manager at Kohls in Tyler, said she expects this weekend to be one of the busiest times of the year.
"I'm not sure what our projected sales are, but they'll be through the roof," Thompson said. "It's going to be like a mini Black Friday."
While this weekend sees some of the busiest days of the year for many retailers, a lot of people are trying to avoid the rush.
"It's going to be a madhouse," said Samantha Beltran, 30, of Murchison. "I'm doing my back-to-school shopping now so I don't have to shop this weekend. In fact, we're going out of town. Everybody's shopping and we'll be in Galveston."
Danielle Handy said she and her son, Grayson, were getting his back-to-school preparation done early to avoid the rush. Grayson, who is going into the first grade, was following his mother around J.C. Penney on Wednesday carrying the tennis shoes he picked out.
"I don't want to be in the madness of all the crazy people shopping this weekend," Handy said. "We're shopping mostly for school clothes, and you don't really save enough money by not paying taxes."
Many retailers will offer discounts on shoes, jeans, school uniforms, standardized dress code clothing, backpacks, and socks and underwear. Stores like Office Max will have sales on school supplies, including glue, colored pencils, markers, mechanical pencils, notebooks, rulers and folders.
Local retailer Alex and Afton Vintedge will be offering a sale on back-to-school jackets, but owner Caitlin Brax said the real draw to the store will be the shelter from the tax-free shopping storm.
"We plan to be an oasis for those who don't want to deal with the chaos of the mall," Brax said. "It will be different just by keeping the good vibes going all day."
Brax plans to offer sangrias for moms and non-alcoholic beverages like iced coffee for minors who stop by to check out the store's offerings. The house-turned-boutique is also connected to a record shop that will be spinning music for shoppers all day.
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