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Stores expect influx of shoppers for sales-tax holiday
Javius Morrow, 9, a rising fourth-grader at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, checks out a pair of boots Tuesday during a shopping trip at JC Penney inside Lakeshore Mall with her grandmother, Joyce Irvin. The four-day sales-tax holiday begins Thursday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
What’s sales-tax free?
  • Clothing less than $100 per item. (Includes men’s, women’s and children’s clothing except accessories, jewelry, costumes and rented clothing.)
  • Computers and computer equipment less than $1,500. (Includes desktops, laptops, printers and accessories but not video games, computer bags or MP3 players.)
  • School supplies less than $20. (Includes writing utensils, notebooks, paper and folders but not briefcases, envelopes and trade business supplies.)

As stores prepare for the sales-tax holiday this weekend, many retail shops hope it will bring them out of a slump.

“We’re expecting this year to be two or three times larger than the past,” said Paul Shiers, store manager for JC Penney at Lakeshore Mall. “It’s unbelievable how much the 7 percent means. Customers anticipate it, and it really drives business for us.”

Shiers wrote a letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue several months ago when the state debated whether to prolong the event for another year. In anticipation of crowded stores, Shiers said all employees will be on hand this weekend, and the store will be open for extended hours.

“Everyone’s on board, even the maintenance staff,” he said. The store will also host an appreciation sale to further promote sales.

The sales begin at 12:01 a.m. July 30 and end at midnight Aug. 2. Sales-tax exempt items include clothing less than $100 per item, computers and computer equipment less than $1,500 and school supplies less than $20. Clothing accessories such as handbags and umbrellas, electronics such as cell phones and digital cameras and supplies such as briefcases and envelopes are not included.

“This weekend each year is worse than Christmas,” laughed Kathy Peck, who works on the stock replenishment team. Peck and co-workers unloaded merchandise Tuesday so all stock will be on the floor. “I usually work replenishment, but this weekend I’ll help with zoning, cleanup and registers, too.”

This is the biggest time of the year for companies such as School Tools & Office Pros on Browns Bridge Road. The store boasts 250 school lists and supplies for both students and teachers. The location also is extending hours for this weekend and next week.

“It’s the big back-to-school rush, and we have a lot of traffic,” said John Jones of the school and office supply store. “We can fill the school supply list while you wait and have no back orders.”

Although Frames-You-Nique on Main Street isn’t included in the state’s sales-tax exemption weekend, owner Don Griffin said the store will still offer sales tax-free sales.

“We’ll pay the taxes for you. We feel a bit ignored, so this may draw some people in,” he said.

Because customers are out and about, the weekend brings a slight increase in business to the store.

“However, parents are really focused on clothes and school supplies this weekend, and that’s not really what we offer,” Griffin said.
As stores are preparing themselves, so are the customers.

“I’m the kind who likes to shop till I drop,” said Joyce Irvin, who shopped for shoes with her granddaughter, Javius Morrow, at JC Penney on Tuesday. “I like to get started early, and if she sees something she likes, I should get it now.”

Irvin said she’ll come out to the stores again this weekend.

“Oh sure, I have two grandkids” who need school supplies and clothes, she said. “Javius has a brother who’s just starting kindergarten.”

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