Businessespreparing for tax free weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Alabama's first back-to-school sales tax holiday will take place this weekend, August 3-5, and many local businesses are getting ready for what should be a buying frenzy.

Tyler Barrage, a department head manager at Goody's, said the store is already experiencing an increase in shoppers this week but she expects the store to be packed this weekend.

&#8220We're already getting more than the usual shoppers now, but this weekend it should pick up even more,” Barrage said.

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Goody's will have almost everything in the store tax free, except for watches.

Although some stores around the state are offering door-buster specials to entice early shoppers, many local businesses are purely counting on the tax-free items to bring in the customers.

Bill McCrary, Wal-Mart store manager, said the supercenter will not have any extra specials, but clothing, computer and school supplies will all be sold under the tax-free exemption.

&#8220(The tax-free status) is pretty special enough,” McCrary said.

Wal-Mart will increase its staff up to 20 percent and McCrary said his department managers and management staff have been working extra hours this week to get ready for the crowds this weekend.

McCrary said Wal-Mart ordered extra computers, computer supplies and school supplies, which he figures should sell quickly.

In states like Florida where tax-free holidays have taken place, McCrary said those Wal-Mart's have done well.

&#8220In Florida, the tax-free holiday has always been a good promotion for them,” McCrary said. &#8220This is the first time for us so I don't know what to expect.”

&#8220We're always expecting, but you never know,” he said.

Janice Stinson, owner of Monogram and Design by Janice, said she ordered more school uniforms for the holiday, including an increase in sizes and styles for both boys and girls, and she is hoping for a good crowd.

&#8220I've had school uniforms 25 percent off all week and I haven't had that many people take advantage of the deal,” Stinson said. &#8220I hope to have a good crowd but people are not going to buy anything until they have some money and get their checks.”

One problem for independent local business like Stinson's is trying to figure out how to handle the tax breaks.

Stinson said she has repeatedly called state and local officials inquiring about how to handle the tax-free status and received no cooperation or response.

&#8220I don't know how to handle it because the city (of Greenville) nor the state will return my calls,” Stinson said. &#8220So, I'll just have to handle it the best way I know how and do it the way I think it should be done.”

According to a poll conducted by the Alabama Retail Association, 72 percent of the 191 retailers polled reported they support the upcoming holiday.

Although many retailers support the holiday, not all cities and counties are participating.

Some retailers whose municipalities are not participating are even going to areas that are and setting up shop there.

That has irked some local businesses, including Stinson.

&#8220Serendipity ( a shop in Montgomery) is coming into town and offering uniforms at 50 percent off and I don't think that's right,” Stinson said.

Stinson noted that business coming into town should have to abide by the same rules as those businesses who are already established in the city, including license and tax regulations.

Although no one is quite sure how the first tax-free holiday will go, many businesses in Greenville are holding out for what could be a shopper's paradise this weekend.

&#8220We'll just have to wait and see,” Stinson said.