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Crossroads consumers hit stores for start of tax-free weekend

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 17, 2012 at 3:17 a.m.
Updated Aug. 18, 2012 at 3:18 a.m.

Britni Hargis, left, Myriah Boyett, and Tasia Higgins, who work at Journeys at the Victoria Mall, say they sold about $1,000 worth of merchandise during the first two hours of tax-free weekend.

DID YOU KNOW?

The average person with children in kindergarten through 12th grade will spend $688.62 on their children this back-to-school season.Total back-to-school spending for children in kindergarten through 12th grade will reach an estimated $30.3 billion.Nationwide, school and college shoppers will spend an estimated $83.8 billion this year.Source: National Retail Federation website

A few tax-free shopping tips from those in the know

Make a list, know what you need, get in and get out.- David Campos, Target executive team leader

Shop early to avoid the crowds.- Eric Trapp, manager at Buckle

Victoria's always got good sales. Look around and you'll find what you need.- Ileana Gaona, stay-at-home mom in Bloomington and Goliad

For a complete list of taxed and tax-free items, click here.

From glue bottles to eraser packs, to brand-new scissors and more, the Target shopping cart Miguel Hernandez urged toward the cash register held everything his three kids needed to start the school year off right.

School supply lists tucked in the front of his cart made sure of it.

Texas' tax-free weekend began Friday, drawing Crossroads shoppers like the Hernandez family out to purchase clothing, shoes and school supplies without regard to that 8 percent sales tax.

"We want to take advantage," Hernandez's 13-year-old son, Jonathan Hernandez, said.

It was backpacks and shoes that Ileana Gaona, who lives in Bloomington and Goliad, was after. Still, she took time to peruse J.C. Penney's clothing.

"I'm looking for good bargains," she said while sifting through a clearance rack.

Although she visited the Victoria Mall on Friday, Gaona planned to extend her shopping to either San Marcos or Houston on Saturday. Such trips are always fun, she said, noting that Black Friday shopping in November is an annual tradition for her family.

In all, she said she expected to spend $100 to $150 throughout the weekend.

Inez resident Dawn Stary wrapped up her shopping - $40 for about 10 outfits - just after noon, with help from her tiny sidekick.

Stary's 5-year-old son, Tobyn Stary, will soon start kindergarten at Industrial Elementary School West, and said he was excited to help pick out his own school clothes.

Despite starting early, Mom said people had already picked over merchandise. She encouraged others to shop early.

Eric Tripp, who manages Buckle, agreed.

Business was steady about 11 a.m., he said, noting that all seven employees on the sales floor were working with customers. Still, he said he expected to see a major influx on Saturday.

Regardless, he said the store was ready with extra merchandise to meet the demand.

The staff at Journeys suited up with backpacks, neon socks, shorts and nerd glasses to kick off what they hoped would be a busy shopping day.

They sold about $1,000 in merchandise during the first two hours Friday, said co-manager Tasia Higgins said, and hoped to see things pick up more as the weekend progressed.

"I'm used to it being chaotic," Higgins said about noon. "It's been so-so, but not bad."

Meanwhile, a bit further north on Navarro Street, Cavender's Boot City took on a carnival-like atmosphere.

Tax-free weekend coincided with the store's back-to-school sale and annual clearance tent sale, Manager Bel Schoeneberg said. In addition to the indoor items the store sold, discounted boots, home decor and even shaved ice were available outside.

Schoeneberg said business trickled in Friday morning, but picked up about 11 a.m.

"It's a double hit with the clearance items and tax-free," she said in between talks with employees. "We really lucked out."

As for the Hernandez family, the kids said they enjoyed grabbing up new supplies - a haul that cost about $220 - and looked forward to getting everything ready. When it came to returning to school, however, the reaction was slightly different.

"I'm not ready," Jonathan said, shaking his head and loading items onto the conveyor belt. "No."

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