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Shoppers take a tax holiday
By MELANIE AVE
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000
TAMPA -- Laura Nolin was one of hundreds of people who showed up early Saturday at the Wal-Mart on N Dale Mabry Highway to buy a few school clothes for her children and, most of all, to save some money in the process.
Saturday marked the beginning of the state's nine-day sales tax holiday aimed at helping working families. State and local taxes won't be charged on most clothing and shoes costing less than $100 through midnight Aug. 6.
After two hours and dozens of calculations on a hand-held calculator Saturday, Nolin and four of her six children walked away with $334.44 worth of backpacks, shorts and T-shirts. Her savings: at least $20.
It may not sound like much, but "that's money that can go into my gas tank," said Nolin, who lives in Tampa.
Wal-mart Manager Jackie Hascher said customers began rushing the store's layaway counter with their shopping carts full of tax-free items shortly after 12:01 a.m., when the exemption began.
By afternoon, layaway workers said the shopping frenzy hadn't slowed.
"They're excited about it," Hascher said. "There are a lot of single parents who live around here, with several kids, and this saves them a lot of money."
Sonia Diaz had forgotten about the tax holiday until she walked into the store and was greeted by a large yellow and white sign reading: "No Sales Tax."
She wandered through the boys' clothing area at the back of the store, the front of her cart stacked with white school uniform shirts for her sons, 13-year-old T.J. and 11-year-old Keith, who attend Young Middle School.
"This is great," said Diaz, who lives in Tampa. "But this is just the beginning."
Parent Sharon Thornton, shopping for clothes for 4-year-old Kayla, summed it up best: "If you can save a little money, that's what everybody's trying to do. Even if you save a little, it helps."
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