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Back-to-school shoppers flock to Toledo businesses for tax-free weekend

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    Andrea and Isabelle Sears, 9, shop for clothes for 4th grade at Central Trail Elementary during Ohio's annual sales-tax holiday at J. C. Penney in the Franklin Park Mall on Saturday.

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  • Holiday05

    Adam Heft, volunteer, and Crystal Sharp, Family navigator, for NAMI speak with families during Ohio's annual sales-tax holiday at the Franklin Park Mall on Saturday.

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  • Holiday05-1

    J.R. Alaksa, 9, of Findlay shops for clothes during Ohio's annual sales-tax holiday at J. C. Penney in the Franklin Park Mall on Saturday.

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When Andrea Sears and her daughter, Isabelle, 9, go shopping during Ohio’s sales-tax holiday every August, they like to make a day out of it.

This Saturday, the mother-daughter duo woke up early, picked up cold drinks at Tim Horton’s, and began their day-long shopping spree for back-to-school outfits.

At 11:30 a.m., Ms. Sears and Isabelle had already spent two hours scouring the kids’ section of JCPenney at Franklin Park Mall, and they had plans to visit Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bath and Body Works.

“If you put what you’re buying with a coupon, you can save about one-third of what you spend,” Ms. Sears said as she pushed a cart already piled high with clothes.

WATCH: Shoppers take advantage of tax-free weekend

Ms. Sears and Isabelle, who will start fourth grade at Central Trail Elementary in Sylvania on Aug. 20, are two of the thousands of back-to-school shoppers throughout Ohio who will save money this weekend during the state’s fourth annual sales tax holiday.

The wildly popular weekend-long tax break, which started Friday and runs through Sunday, is intended to help parents save money on back-to-school necessities, while boosting state business in the process. The parameters are relatively narrow — no state or local sales tax is collected on clothing items priced at $75 or less and school supplies and instructional materials priced at $20 or less.

In Lucas County, the sales tax adds up to 7.25 percent: the statewide sales tax is 5.75 percent, and the county collects another 1.5 percent.

Ms. Sears said she planned to spend about $300 on back-to-school shopping, resulting in savings of about $21.75 in state and local taxes thanks to the holiday.

Joy Findley, general manager of the Franklin Park JCPenney, said the tax holiday is by far the busiest weekend for back-to-school shopping.

“We call it sort of a blackout period where we have all hands on deck,” Ms. Findley said. “All of our associates that are employed here have a shift to help us get through the busy time.”

Local nonprofits, businesses, and schools capitalized on the holiday as an opportunity to provide resources to help prepare students for school.

At a back-to-school fair hosted at Franklin Park, 20 vendors showcased extracurricular opportunities, private and public schools, and health and wellness resources in the Toledo area.

Representatives from the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses Greater Toledo set up a booth where kids can make bookmarks while parents discuss programs NAMI offers for children and classes for parents of children with mental-illness diagnoses.

“It starts a conversation,” said Crystal Sharp, who connects families with mental health resources in the community.

Crowds were just starting to grow at the mall at 11:30, but by noon the checkout lines at a nearby Target store were packed with people looking to save money on school supplies and clothing items.

Nadia Clark, an incoming first grader in Ottawa Hills, showed off her new colorful tie-dye backpack and her sleek lunch box as her mother, Sara Clark, browsed the Target school supply aisles.

“The tax-free weekend is a nice way for us to get all the supplies that we know we need to have at a little bit cheaper price,” Ms. Clark said. “We’re thankful for that.”

Contact Adelaide Feibel at afeibel@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @AddyFeibel.

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