Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 3, 2012

Virginia sales tax holiday: Pencils, laptops gain momentum as area residents shop for best deals

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Pens, paper and laptops are all on the school supply list as Virginia stores prepare for the back-to-school shoppers taking advantage of the Commonwealth’s sales tax holiday this weekend.

Between today and Sunday, Aug. 5, certain school supplies, clothing and footwear will be exempt from the Virginia sales tax. Roger Wayne, operations manager for Staples in Bluefield, Va., said the store has stocked up on some of the more traditional school supplies like pencils and paper as well as some more modern essentials.

“People come in for paper, electronics, backpacks, lunch boxes, tissues, paper clips, and we also sell a lot of binders, pens, and pencils,” Wayne said. “Crayons are very big with the younger children while the college kids are coming in for the calculators, tablets and computers. Accessories for phones also sell well since many of those can be plugged into the computer.”

Wayne said he anticipates computers will be one of the biggest sellers during the tax-free weekend.

“Tablets are our most popular electronic right now,” Wayne said. “They are selling pretty well. So are the smaller laptops. I see tablets becoming much more popular for the college kids and eventually the high school kids. Tablets can do everything calculators can do and more.”

In addition to stocking up on supplies, Wayne said employees are bracing for bigger crowds.

“It is usually crowded,” Wayne said. “Last year, our customers increased from an average of 400 to 1,400 on the tax-free weekend. We are expecting to be pretty busy. We see people from both states coming in to get supplies. We just keep our shelves well stocked and make sure we have enough employees to handle the rush.”

According to Wayne, the tax-free weekend is a big help to many customers.

“It helps our customers and our primary goal is customer care, so we like seeing them get what they need,” Wayne said. “We enjoy helping get all the kids set up and prepared for the next school year. We are also taking donations for the Second Chance Learning Center and have a bin set up so people can donate school supplies to the kids there. We want to make sure they’re prepared to go back to school as well.”

Jeri Powers, manager of Burke’s Outlet in Bluefield, Va., said she and other employees are also gearing up for the store’s first tax-free weekend.

“We have doubled our staff just for this weekend, and we had a truck bring in new merchandise,” Power said. “We also have new markdowns for this weekend. Everyone is ready and we are very excited since this is our first tax-free weekend here. We are staying open late and have an extra register ready to roll out if we need it.”

Powers said the tax-free weekend helps local families get outfitted for school.

“If our sales continue like they have been, I think our best-selling items will be shoes and especially junior’s clothes,” she said. “Jeans are a pretty hot item right now. This really helps with budgets. Every cent counts when you’re school shopping. Saving $10 or $15 can help out a lot, especially in this economy. That is enough to buy an extra outfit or pair of shoes.”

The tax-free weekend is also good for business, Powers said.

“It brings in new customers who may not normally shop here,” she said. “Hopefully, these new customers will become regular customers. We are looking forward to seeing all those new faces, and we are hoping to grow our business.”

Tazewell County Administrator Jim Spencer said local residents reap rewards from the sales tax holiday.

“As a parent, it is nice to help get all of the various things the kids need to start their school year,” Spencer said. “It helps families and with the economy still down, it helps our local families to save money. Shopping is a family activity. They go shopping and out to eat. It brings more people into the local community.”

Additionally, Spencer said the tax-free weekend brings new customers out to stores in Tazewell County, which can have a lasting impact on the local economy.

“It also brings people into the area who shop and will visit some of our local restaurants in Tazewell County,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to showcase what businesses we have. We are blessed to have so many new businesses coming in recently to the Bluefield and Claypool Hill area. There is a new Hibbett’s open here for people coming to get sports supplies. When people go one store, they often come visit the other stores in the area and buy things there as well.”

—Contact Kate Coil at�

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