North Carolina starts tax-free holiday weekend of shopping
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 4, 2006 1:48 PM
Shoppers grab your credit cards.
The state's tax-free weekend began at 12:01 a.m. today and continues until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
And in Wayne County, shoppers wasted no time getting their lists in shape for their back-to-school haul.
Laketa Jimenez and her daughter, Ariana, 4, were at Target this morning before 9 a.m. to take advantage of the prices and the early bird selection.
"We'll get some school supplies, clothes and shoes," Mrs. Jimenez said.
Shopping during the tax-free weekend does save money, she said.
"It depends on how much you spend," she said. "I expect to spend $200 today."
Kimberly Mattern was also up early, getting toys for her son and daughter, ages 5 and 7. She had already loaded up with some school supplies and was heading to the clothing department next.
"I put it off to save that little bit of money. You have to save it where you can," she said. "I wanted to get up early to miss the crowd. I know tomorrow will be crazy. Everybody else will be off work."
But nobody will be off work at Target this weekend.
"It's all hands on deck," said Douglas Blake, one of the managers on duty today to assist with the anticipated traffic. In addition to school supplies, clothes and shoes, Blake said lots of bed sheets, especially twin sheets were selling today. And shower caddies were also big sellers.
Karen Witt at JCPenney in the Berkeley Mall said she expects to see "a great surge in business" this weekend.
"People still get excited about getting something without having to pay taxes," she said. "Without paying Uncle Sam."
To cope with the heavy traffic of customers, she is bringing in all available staff.
"We don't hire extra, but we do bring in extra hours," Mrs. Witt said. "Nobody has a day off this weekend."
She added that there will probably be long lines and some waiting, but bringing in extra staff should help to make the shopping experience a good one.
"My goal is to give people a pleasant experience," she said. "I hope they come out ready for the fun and the chaos."
Joe Gambino at Belk is doing the same thing, with the management team acting as "traffic cops," moving customers from the big lines to where they can get what they want quicker. He has also distributed flyers letting customers know what items are included in the tax-free weekend.
Certain items are excluded, but clothing items that cost $100 or less, school supplies and sports and recreation equipment items that are $50 or less are on the list of acceptable purchases. Computers for school are included as long as they cost up to $3,500 but no more. Computer supplies can also be purchased as long as they don't cost more than $250.
"It's a general amnesty. Nobody's going to ask to see anybody's school ID, and a lot of people take advantage of it," said Gambino, who has extended store hours from the normal 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for both days to 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. today and 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Sunday.
A lot of customers might have postponed shopping for back-to-school items until this weekend, he said.
"This is at least the third year, and we know what to expect," he said. The big areas will be children and young men's and the home store for bed sheets for dorms. We're excited about the opportunity. When you consider all the things kids need for school and college, it's tremendous."
He said he also anticipates the heat to drive more customers to the store.
"Staffing is at full swing for the weekend, and nobody's off," he said, adding that "we're praying the air conditioner holds out."
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