Parents stock up during tax-free holiday

HARLINGEN — Cruz Marroquin grasped bundles of clothes in his thick arms, a contented smile on his face.

“Every little bit helps,” said Marroquin, his young son playing nearby.

Marroquin, 39, was standing in line at JCPenney waiting to purchase back-to-school clothes for his son and daughters. It was the second day of the annual tax-free holiday.

Parents and kids were flooding the aisles of stores yesterday purchasing clothes, school supplies and other items without paying taxes.

“It’s going very well,” said Maribel Jacquez, general manager at JCPenney at Valle Vista Mall.

“We had a lot of people in our store, a lot of customers getting ready for back to school.”

The back-to-school sales tax holiday began Friday and concludes today. The three-day weekend each year allows parents and children to purchase items for school without paying the usual 8.25 percent sales tax.

The tax exemption applies to purchases of most clothing, shoes and school supplies under $100.

Parents and kids filled aisles sifting through stacks of jeans, racks of fresh shirts and new shoes. Colorful backpacks on shelves along walls awaited purchase.

Steven Paul, 33, grasped a gray Batman backpack in his arms along with five pairs of pants, two shirts and two pairs of shorts.

“These are clothes for Colton to go to school,” he said, gesturing to a small boy playing nearby.

He also waited in line to spend about $120. He appreciated the opportunity to save some money.

“It definitely comes in handy, the savings,” he said.

Some shoppers say they sometimes avoid the tax-free holiday because of the crowds, adding the savings aren’t always worth the hassle.

Not so, said Paul.

“I think it’s worth the money you save,” he said.

Marroquin had driven from Raymondville to shop. His wife JoAnn was at the counter pricing clothes and matching them with coupons along with her mother Francis De La Rosa.

They determined they would save about $20 through the tax exemption, and more through coupons.

“It’s not that much,” he said, and then, “Every little bit helps.”

So added Jessica Hernandez, 27, who’d also traveled from Raymondville with her 7-year-old daughter.

“I bought uniform shirts, socks, undershirts and an outfit for my daughter,” she said. “I think it’s important. You get to save money. Not everybody has enough to spend.”