Tax-free holiday rings up savings for area shoppers

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 3, 2009

Stacey Gooden is a Jackson girl, but the prospect of savingmoney during Mississippi’s first sales tax-free holiday drove her50 miles south on Saturday to be a Brookhaven shopper.

“Mine’s added up – I’ve saved about $50,” she said while leavingBeyond the Rainbow, her fourth stop of the day. “That’s 7 percentyou’re spending out, and if you save it you can go to another storeand spend it there, and you’re still saving at that store,too.”

Despite some predictions of anarchy from confused shoppers andmerchants alike during the tax holiday Friday and Saturday and someskeptics’ judgment that 7 percent savings wouldn’t really matter inthe end, the event was a success for Gooden, who traveled toBrookhaven because of the retail sector’s variety.

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With a teenage son in junior high back in the capital city, shewas shopping hard for winter clothes, shoes and school uniforms.Best of all, Gooden no longer has to rely on Tennessee’s sales taxholiday.

“I’m just glad we got (a sales tax holiday),” she said. “Weusually go to Memphis to get their clothes.”

Danitra Martin made the trip down Interstate 55 with Gooden, andshe too managed to take advantage of the sales tax holiday. Afterbuying three pairs of shoes at Beyond the Rainbow, she had saved$20.

“The baby needed shoes,” she said. “It’s a big deal when thetaxes add up.”

Gooden and Martin weren’t the only Jackson residents in theHomeseekers Paradise Saturday. University of Mississippi studentJulianne Lofton is getting ready to tie the knot, and even thoughImaginations’ wedding dresses were not eligible for the taxholiday’s $100 per item limit, she did manage to find other itemsto buy while in town.

“We definitely saved some, and it’s a little extra incentive ifyou’re not sure of whether you want to buy something,” Lofton saidafter shopping at Macy Taylor’s.

Even shoppers less enthusiastic than the traveling Jackson crowdwere lured into the stores by the promise of savings. Brookhaven’sStacey Ravenscraft said she was living proof the event had itsdesired effect of boosting business in the state.

“It did draw me out of the house. Without it, I would have beenhome, working in the yard,” she said. “But every little bit helps,and when it’s on sale, it helps even more.”

If shoppers were pleased, business owners and managers were evenmore so.

Brookhaven’s Willette Porter, a district manager for severalFactory Connection outlets in South Mississippi, said her storeswere reporting a solid two days.

“It’s been pretty profitable for everybody,” she said.

Repetitions Manager Elaina Anders said her consignment shop onWhitworth Avenue did triple business during the tax holiday.

“We were swamped from open to close,” she said. “The customerslove it, and they’re benefiting from it.”

And while confusion over exemptible and non-exemptible items onthe Mississippi State Tax Commission’s expansive list of “dos” and”don’ts” no doubt occurred, Anders said there were no majorproblems at her store.

“It seems to be pretty straightforward,” she said. “(Customers)seem to understand it’s strictly clothing and shoes, and I haven’thad that many questions on it.”

Over the Rainbow co-owner Bonnie Beach said her employees hadbeen briefed on the list before the weekend, and were ready toanswer all customers’ questions.

Enterprise’s Tonya Luper said she had seen a few mix-ups duringthe day concerning ineligible items, but the shoppers in questionwere not deterred.

“You just find out when you get to the register,” she said.