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Experience the savings

For the first time in state history, consumers are getting a break on back to school merchandise. The first annual Sales Tax Holiday weekend, which kicked off at midnight Friday, brought shoppers out in force.

“I came out here tonight expecting to be early,” said Bathsheeba Stacy of Demopolis while comparing items on her child’s first-grade school supply list. “I was surprised by the crowd that’s already here. There’s no telling how big the crowd is going to be [Saturday].”

Others came out on mere hours after the sale started just to ensure they were able to get quality products.

“I was just afraid that stuff was going to be picked over and sold out if I waited,” said Monica Cox of Demopolis. “I thought I could come out tonight and get the stuff I needed.

As of a little after midnight, Cox was halfway through her daughter’s school supply list.

George Evans and Loretta Kemp made the hike from Linden to Demopolis to get first dibs on the savings.

“This is an excellent idea,” said Kemp. “Some people wouldn’t be able to afford half of the stuff they need without a tax break. This will help people, especially in the Blackbelt with limited incomes who can’t afford $15 of $16 dollars for a pair of pants. It makes things cheaper.”

Kemp and Evans were shopping for their three children who are entering the third, fourth and eighth grades respectively.

Parents, however, weren’t the only ones trying to beat the crowd in the wee hours of the morning. Laketta Phillips and Armisha Perry were also shopping.

Phillips and Perry are gearing up for the freshman years of college at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, respectively.

“I wanted to come out and beat the crowd,” said Perry.

“I didn’t want to have to go through leftovers,” said Phillips.

Both ladies agreed that they had come out to beat the crowd, but were surprised by how many people turned out on the first night.

“It’s going to be hectic [Saturday],” said Perry.

For the Spillers, however, a trip to Wal-Mart was on their to-do list before they made it back to their home. Leslie and Traci Spiller were still dressed in their Demopolis All-Star paraphernalia and had shopping lists in hand as they had just gotten back into Demopolis from the 11-12 year old state championship in Montgomery hours earlier.

“This is a good idea for people to do this,” said Traci. “It makes people feel like the state and the city is helping out. It’s also a good incentive for people to stay in town and shop.”

“It helps out a lot financially,” said Leslie. “You are required to buy so much now for back to school. If you have two or three kids, that could easily put you over $100 with each child.”

The Spillers were buying for one child who is entering third grade and picking up the items that they assumed their middle schooler would need due to back-to-school lists not being available.