Parents, teachers and savvy shoppers hit midstate stores Friday as Georgias two-day tax-free holiday returned after a three-year hiatus.
Some were looking for back-to-school bargains on clothes and classroom supplies, while others showed up to save on big-ticket items.
The holiday came as a nice surprise to Sheila Smith of Milledgeville, who was shopping for her daughter, London, to get a new wardrobe for her first year of high school.
I saved a little bit today, but I thought the tax-free was tomorrow. I was trying to beat the crowds, Smith said at The Shoppes at River Crossing in north Bibb County.
Betty Sweet Ladson upgraded to a new laptop at Quality Computers on Riverside Drive in Macon and saved dozens in tax dollars.
They were having a sale, and you dont have to pay the 7 percent (tax), said Ladson. Im really excited.
Co-owner Brad Spiegel said the store had sold 20 to 30 computers by mid-afternoon.
Since it hadnt happened in a couple of years, I really expected it to be down this year, said Speigel. We had people waiting to get in when we opened up this morning. When we opened the door for one of our techs to come in, they followed right behind him. A good problem.
The tax-free holiday continues until midnight Saturday. Shoppers will pay no sales tax on clothes and shoes that cost less than $100 per item, school supplies that cost less than $20 an item, and personal computer-related electronics and accessories in a single purchase that cost $1,000 or less, according to the state Department of Revenue.
John Fleming, spokesman for the Georgia Retail Association, said merchants should see a small jump in business during the tax-free days.
Georgia hasnt had one (in three years). I dont know if the level of awareness is as high as it has been in other places, Fleming said. In other states, it builds into sort of a tradition as they have it year after year.
Haley Lilley, a third-grade teacher at Byron Elementary, was among the more than 100 teachers who shopped at GA School Supply on Mercer University Drive on Friday. She and her teaching teammate, Wanda Sullivan, were looking for materials to help in the transition to the new Common Core performance standards the state has switched to this year.
Were just trying to make sure our kids are a step ahead with Common Core, said Lilley. Were looking for things to get the kids excited about it.
Lilley teaches reading, and Sullivan teaches math. The Common Core math book they hoped to find was sold out.
No teachers have these books, said store owner Ed Vogel. We order them, and all of a sudden one grade levels gone already. We just keep ordering and ordering.
Vogels store served more than 120 customers, mostly teachers -- almost twice as many as on Friday a year ago. He credited some of that to the tax-free holiday and some to this being the final weekend before school starts Monday.
We will have an increase today and tomorrow as compared to before. Part of its because of the tax-free, said Vogel. And a lot of people are in here who do not know about the tax-free weekend.
Vogels store carries mostly school and classroom supplies, along with childrens books and some toys. There are no big-ticket items such as computers. Near the end of the day Friday, he said teachers had saved $195.69 in taxes. That might not seem like much, but for teachers who buy many of their supplies out-of-pocket, every little bit counts.
Elaine Keadle, a retired schoolteacher, stocked up on bulletin board materials and other supplies for the Sunday school and church classes she now teaches.
This is a good time to pick that up, she said.
Things were hopping at the Staples at Eisenhower Crossing as shoppers picked up everything from computers to crayons.
I actually thought it would be a little better, said Staples General Manager Phillip McLendon. I think school supplies are a big force.
The tax exemption does not apply to everything. Items that do not qualify include: clothing accessories, jewelry, handbags, umbrellas, eye wear, watches, watch bands, cellular devices, furniture, medical supplies, janitorial supplies, computer-related accessories designed for recreational use, or items used in a trade or business or for resale.
Most retailers and department stores have extended their store hours for the tax-free holiday.