Weatherford Democrat

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August 17, 2012

Tax free weekend starts today

— It’s a weekend many parents circle on their calendars months in advance.

Aug. 17-19 is the annual Tax-Free Weekend in Texas, where the normal 8 to 9 percent sales tax is cut on items as most clothing, footwear and school supplies priced under $100. Couple that with sales that many retailers have going on that weekend and it’s a chance for cash-strapped families to save some serious money.

The sales tax holiday weekend in Texas has been an annual event since 1999. Shoppers are expected to save an estimated $64.8 million in state and local sales taxes during the three days. For those not wanting to hit the highways, all sales of similar items on the Internet and through the mail are also eligible for tax-free status.

In Parker County and Weatherford, stores are gearing up for an expected rush of customers. Weatherford JC Penney Store Leader Jeff Coffey said the opening of two new brand specific areas for Levi’s and Arizona Jeans will highlight the weekend. JC Penney salons nationwide have offered free child’s haircuts throughout the month and that will hopefully bring in more traffic.

“We’ve done (locally)about 600 of those haircuts, which brought people into the store,” Coffey said. “With those haircuts for kids, we also gave adults an incentive to have their hair cut there. We’ve really had a lot of positive feedback on that.

 Local Chamber of Commerce officials remind shoppers to do their shopping in Parker County.

“Remember to do your shopping in the stores and boutiques that you ask for donations,” Lisa Flowers, president of the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce, said. “When you shop local, you’re helping to build better roads, you’re helping to build better parks and you’re helping to build better fire and rescue services.”

Flowers says every purchase helps, even a toothbrush, with sales tax monies going toward city and county services. Most areas are reporting steady to slightly above sales tax numbers for the budget year so far.

Tammy Gazzola, president of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, said the tax free weekend provides good incentive for people to get out and shop.

“We, of course, want to have people shop locally,” Gazzola said. “We love to see our stores packed and see a lot of people out there.”

If what Jeanette Whisenhunt of Weatherford believes comes true, it could be a banner weekend for shoppers. Whisenhunt and her three kids were out at Walmart Thursday morning doing some reconnaissance — seeing what they need and what it will cost — before their big shopping trips Friday.

“By taking advantage of sales and the tax free items, you can save a fair amount of money,” Whisenhunt said. “With the savings, I’ll probably end up taking them to lunch.”

Whisenhunt estimates she will spend between $750 to $800 this year on school clothes and supplies. She says the economy showing some signs of life has sparked her spending.

“Two years ago we spent about half this and went without because we couldn’t afford it,” Whisenhunt said. “I hated to do it but ... Things are starting to turn around, I think.”

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