Kim Stivers, a cashier at Family Dollar on Blake Street, restocks the shelves on the school supply aisle as the tax free weekend gets under way on Saturday. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
Pine Bluff area residents took full advantage Saturday of the chance for savings offered by the second annual Arkansas Sales Tax Holiday that saw Arkansas retailers charging no local or state sales tax for merchandise considered back-to-school items.
The holiday, which continues Sunday, was authorized by the passage of Act 757 of 2011 by the state legislature in order to provide financial relief to consumers buying back-to-school items and to bring increased business to retailers.
Josh Miller, manager at the Staples location across from The Pines mall, said he opened the doors at 8:50 a.m. instead of the normal 9 a.m. start time to accommodate would-be patrons already waiting in the parking lot.
“We were so packed up here this morning,” Miller said. “The parking lots were completely full and we kept running out of shopping carts for people. Each car had between two and five people on average so we saw a lot of people come in today.”
Miller said Saturday was also Teacher Appreciation Day at the office supplies store.
“Teachers are coming in and buying a lot of stuff,” Miller said. “We’re selling a lot of school supplies.”
Chelsea Adams of Pine Bluff was one of those customers shopping for school supplies, including glue sticks, with two children late Saturday afternoon at Staples.
“It helps a lot,” Adams said of the sales tax holiday. “Before coming here we went to Sears and JCPenney at the mall for clothes. We also took advantage of it last year.”
Jeffery Turner is an assistant manager at rue21, a clothing store located on South Olive Street across from the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
“We’ve been pretty busy,” Turner said. “It’s been pretty good today. It’s been steady.”
“It’s been a big help,” Turner said of the customers who came in because of the holiday. “There were people waiting in line outside the door when we opened this morning at 10.”
Sandra Fuller manages Citi Trends, a clothing store in Jefferson Square.
“Business has been wonderful today,” Fuller said. “They actually came out really, really big time this year. I believe business has been a little bit better this year than last.”
“We’ve been selling clothing, shoes and backpacks,” Fuller said. “It’s been a great, great, great day.”
The sales-tax-free shopping began officially at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and lasts through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
The items included in the Sales Tax Holiday include: clothing less than $100 per item defined as wearing apparel suitable for general use; clothing accessories or equipment less than $50 per item defined as incidental items worn on the person in conjunction with clothing, including briefcases, cosmetics, watches, umbrellas and non-prescription sunglasses; school supplies defined as an item commonly used by a student in a course of study, including calculators, pencils, pens, folders, notebooks, writing tablets and legal pads; school art supplies defined as an item commonly used by a student in a course of study for artwork, limited to clay and glazes, paints-acrylic, tempera and oil, paintbrushes for artwork, sketch and drawing pads and watercolors; and school instructional material defined as written material commonly used by a student in a course of study as a reference and to learn the subject being taught, limited to reference books, reference maps and globes, textbooks and workbooks.