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Crossroads kicks off 2013 Texas tax-free weekend

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 9, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.

Kelly Webb carefully works her way through the stacks of clothing, buying items in threes for her three grandchildren as tax-free weekend launches at J.C. Penny.

The saying goes that things happen in threes, and Friday morning Kelly Webb was living proof.

The Victoria grandmother weaved her way through J.C. Penney Co. clothing racks, grabbing three pairs of jammies here, three onesies there and so on. She was shopping for her three grandsons, ages 8 months, 12 months and 16 months.

"I try to get them the same things if I can," motioning toward the 12 plus hangers slung over her hand.

Webb, a clinical liaison, was among the Crossroads shoppers who ventured out Friday for the first day of Texas' tax-free weekend.

The annual event, which runs through Sunday, offers Texas consumers a three-day break on the state's 8 percent sales tax when they buy qualifying clothing and school supplies priced at less than $100.

Anna Wischkaemper got an early start on her tax-free shopping Friday, finishing for the day at 9:45 a.m. as she exited Target with her 5-year-old son. The Dudley Elementary School teacher had plans to finish decorating her classroom that day and wanted to beat the crowds.

Her main purchases included markers, shirts for her son and a backpack.

"I was in and out pretty fast," Wischkaemper said after tucking her bags in the trunk of her car. "So far, it isn't bad."

Michelle Trevino ventured to town from Beeville in search of school clothes for her daughter, 9-year-old Novalon Trevino. The family had plans to make a day of it, visiting the mall, grabbing lunch and hitting other stores.

Novalon's school requires a specific dress code, so Trevino said she was on the lookout for polo shirts, jeans and solid-colored clothing. When it came to a budget, she said, she didn't have any particular number in mind.

"We'll just see how far we get," said Trevino, a parent involvement coordinator.

J.C. Penney readied for the shopper onslaught much as it always does, by having extra employees on hand and bringing out more merchandise than usual, said Brian Patteson, the store's manager.

Still, one new addition joined the mix.

This year, shoppers paying with credit and debit cards can bypass register lines, instead paying with employees who have wireless payment devices.

Patteson said Saturday and Sunday are when stores get busiest. But even when things are at their most hectic, they're enjoyable.

"It's a fun and crazy time," he said.

Dillard's aims to make the shopping holiday an all-out event, said Daryl Laird, assistant store manager. The store Saturday will offer a fashion show, carnival games, makeovers and more.

"We're trying to involve areas that wouldn't normally be part of tax-free weekend," he said, noting that includes makeup counters, fragrance areas and more.

Like Patteson, Laird said he enjoys the weekend.

"When it's busy like that, the day goes faster," he said. "It's fun."

Brandey and Dale Kolar were busy themselves as they maneuvered three of their four children - two in strollers - through the Victoria Mall.

The family always makes it a point to wait for tax-free weekend, mainly because of the savings. And Friday, it was daughter Brianna Dunn's chance to scope out her back-to-school look.

The incoming fifth-grader at Aloe Elementary favors Miss Me jeans, with their rhinestone pockets, and anything from the store Justice.

Meanwhile, for Webb, her little men weren't the only family members scoring big Friday. She had big plans to hit up the girls' sections next.

Her fourth grandchild - and first granddaughter - is due to be born in just a couple of weeks.

"I'll end up spending more than I should," she said with a grin. "But I have to do some spoiling."

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