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School sales tax holiday doesn’t make the grade

Near capacity parking lots were visible all weekend.

NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY– Last weekend’s sales tax holiday found concurrence in nine out of ten respondents that it isn’t measuring up, with the other 10% either very much in favor of the tax break or didn’t know or care about it.

However, stores in Crosby were packed as parents endeavored to get ready for school to start today.

Shoppers and store workers in Crosby and Baytown were asked about what their reaction to the Back to School Sales Tax Holiday was, and their response was educational. Few wanted to be responsible for their opinions or photographed.

One store worker volunteered that the notebooks she was standing near for $2.48 had been $2.20 regular price last week. On the other hand, notebooks that were regular 79¢ were on sale for 50¢. “They move prices, locations and stuff around a lot,” she said.

A grocery store manager in Crosby said, “What do I care about a sales tax free weekend, anymore? We used to carry items for each school in packages, specific to every school, but now only big box stores do that. It encourages their monopoly.”

But that system has been replaced with the pupils and students getting their requirements specified on-line so that wherever they go they simply have to look for the items required.

“It wouldn’t be such a joke if the cut off wasn’t at a hundred, about the time you spend anything at all. ‘Oops, it isn’t tax free.’ Best of all, they included electronics. Where are you gonna buy a laptop that is worth anything for less than a hundred bucks?”

But a store clerk, when asked if electronics were tax free that weekend, peered at a piece of paper and said, “They are not on the list, so it isn’t tax free.”

This reporter bought some White-Out and a set of ink pens. The White-Out drew the 8¢ tax.

A young couple briskly strode out of a local store, herding school aged children, pushing a capacity cart and, when called out to ask if they had saved on back to school with the tax free holiday, answered, “We didn’t know about it, and from the money we just spent it didn’t make any difference.”

Similarly, another couple with an elementary aged boy and a packed grocery cart answered, “We didn’t notice anything at all, and we just did our $400 big back to school special buy. We maybe saved about $0.96 on a backpack.”

One local business man said, “There’s not enough savings for me to fight with the type of folks willing to fight folks over saving a few bucks.”

Another stated, “Yeah, people like to save money. Where is the human interest in that? I gotta say, notebooks is all I saved on, and my kid said I got the wrong kind.”

Another friend answered, “The crowds aren’t worth the $8 per $100 savings.”

Another friendly couple answered, “We did all our back to school a week ago to avoid the crowd.”

Yet there are those that maintain an optimistic, and equally opportunistic, attitude.

“I love the back to school tax free weekend. Unless you go to a popular mall like Baybrook, the crowds aren’t bad. Stores have excellent sales on top of the tax break. I actually plan for this weekend way in advance.”

It would be enough to hear all this, but add to the fact that this reporter was booted from the local Wal-Mart and told that I would have to check with Wal-Mart’s Corporate Office to ask questions.

Didn’t call them.