There was no crowd waiting in front of Buckle inside The Mall at Barnes Crossing at 6 a.m. Friday, but a handful of back-to-school shoppers did snap up a few items.
A few hours later, it was tough to get into the store and others as the back-to-school buying frenzy, coupled with the start of a two-day break from paying the state’s 7 percent sales tax, attracted plenty of shoppers.
Among the customers making the rounds was Valerie Cope and her daughter, Azalee Staples.
“We’re looking to save a little bit,” said Cope, who started shopping around 8:30 a.m. “We came Thursday night to try on everything and came back today to get them.”
At The Corner Shoe Store in the West Main Shopping Center, business was steady on Friday, and is expected to blossom today.
“This is fun,” said owner Tommy Lee, who helped one of more than a dozen customers who were inside the store a little before noon. “We started out a little slow, but it’s been steady ever since.”
Like several retailers, Lee was taking the sales tax off every item in his store, not just the list approved by the state. Backpacks aren’t on the exempt list, but at The Corner Shoe Store they were.
“Customers are getting a little bit of everything,” he said. “Backpacks, school shoes, young girls’ clothing, you name it.”
And, he added with a laugh, “there’s no limit” to how much customers can buy.
For shoppers like Alicia Herring, there is a limit, with four kids needing back-to-school stuff.
“Everybody needs new clothes, new shoes, plus school supplies,” she said. “But not having to pay tax helps a lot. When you’re spending a few hundred dollars, it adds up.”
At Shoe Country, also in the West Main Shopping Center, company president Corey Chunn said he was pleasantly surprised by the steady stream of shoppers in his store.
“We’ve been swamped,” he said. Everything in his store also was tax-free.
He, too, expects an even bigger turnout today.
“You’ve got a lot of people working today, but (Saturday) they’ll be off and be able to shop more.”
Chiquita Davidson and her two children, Sharia Moore and Javen Moore, were doing plenty of shopping on Friday.
“We’re going to Kohl’s and J.C. Penney, then hit all of the other stores that we can,” Davidson said.
The family from Houston said it was their first time to participate in the combination back-to-school, tax-free shopping spree.
“I plan to spend about the same as last year,” Davidson said, before giving it a little more thought. “But you never know, we’ll probably buy more.”
That’s fine with mall manager Jeff Snyder, who said the traffic patterns were working a little differently this year. Last year, the tax holiday covered Saturday and Sunday.
“We really weren’t too sure what to expect, considering Friday is a work day for many people,” he said. “But by 10 a.m., we were covered up. It should really be a super Saturday today. Normal back-to-school Saturdays are already busy, but with the tax holiday, it’s going to be really super.”
The tax holiday lasts until midnight tonight.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal