Shoppers take advantage of tax-free days

Shoppers look at the laptops in the newly redesigned computer area at Best Buy during tax-free weekend in Gainesville, Saturday August 3, 2013. Tax-free weekend continues tomorrow and for the first time computers and tablets are included as items that are tax-free.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

Bikinis are not allowed under the Alachua County School Board dress code, but that's what Buchholz High senior-to-be Jessica Ludlow was scoping out at Target on Saturday.

After all, bikinis are bathing suits and bathing suits qualify for the 6 percent sales tax back-to-school exemption — a break that spurred a shopping frenzy Saturday and that ends tonight at midnight.

“I'm looking for clothes. Because of the dress code we have to have collars and shorts,” Ludlow said, adding she really wants a bikini. “Yeah, I'll call my parents and say, ‘Mom, I found a really cute bathing suit' and she'll get mad.”

Stores in Gainesville's main shopping areas of the Oaks Mall and Butler Plaza were packed Saturday with bargain hunters from around the region.

Especially busy was Best Buy because this is the first year that computers and related accessories qualified for the sales tax exemption.

Some customers admitted they are not students, but waited to buy a computer just to take advantage of the tax break.

For others, discovery of the tax-free event was a stroke of luck.

Ashley Reeb will soon begin attending Columbia University in New York. After working 10 years as a hair stylist, Reeb was accepted into a Columbia program for non-traditional students.

Reeb was visiting friends in Gainesville on her way to Miami when she saw a newspaper article on the exemption and decided to hustle to Best Buy to pick up a new Mac.

“I was planning on buying a computer in Miami Monday at a Mac store there, but came here to get the break,” she said. “We live in New York, but this (tax-free) break is awesome.”

Several people estimated the exemption would save about $50 on a new computer.

But clothes and old-school school supplies — notebooks and pencils — were the main goals of shoppers.

Alachua County's dress code mandates collared shirts and solid-colored shorts, pants or skirts. Old Navy was well-stocked with tables of the required wear.

Linda Cue, an Alachua County librarian, took her niece and nephew shopping and their haul included shoes from Rack Room and clothes from Old Navy.

“Their mom is at a funeral so I decided to take them shopping, and it just happened to be tax-free,” Cue said. “It will save a little bit of money, which is always good.”

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