Tax-free holiday good for big and small businesses alike in South Mississippi

Updated: Jul. 27, 2019 at 6:02 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Clothing sales have always been good this time of year at Riley’s Children’s Apparel.With the tax-free holiday list now including school supplies, the Gulfport business is seeing some extra benefits.

“Oh, gosh. It’s been great,” said saleswoman Rachel McGill. “We’ve been so busy, backpacks, nap mats, lunch boxes. It’s been great.”

The 7% sales tax exemption has been big for big-box stores, but it’s also been good for small business as well.

In fact, Riley’s has additional employees at the ready because they know why many people prefer small business operators.

“Just because of the one-on-one service,” McGill said. “They come in here, and they know they’re going to get great service.”

Among those shoppers this weekend is Chris McGuire.

“It’s great to shop local,” he said. “It’s convenient for us, and they’ve got great service at all the local businesses. That’s what we appreciate.”

He also appreciates the lower cost.

“Things like backpacks are important to us, and we’ve got four kids and so, yeah, it’s excellent. It’s a great addition to the program this year," he said.

Educate and Celebrate is crowded with shoppers as well, mostly teachers like Robin Gressett, who has come all the way from Collinsville.

“Right now, I’m just looking for things to get my classroom ready for our open house next Friday night,” she said. “And making sure my bulletin boards are done, and my supplies are all organized and set up for the students.”

While these kinds of supplies are not eligible for the tax break, she’ll be buying items for her students and her own children as well.

“We need to make sure we have paper, pencils, typical school supplies that a lot of people take for granted but some people can’t go get them,” Gressett said.

The help is appreciated.

“It is nice,” she said. “Because it’s always us knowing that you’ve got to spend money regardless. It’s nice to have a little bit of a break."

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