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Arkansas businesses navigate unique tax-free weekend

It's that time when shoppers can save big on clothes and school supplies. But this year, the lines are a lot shorter.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — It’s tax-free weekend, meaning shoppers can save big on clothes and school supplies. But this year, the lines are a lot shorter than usual.

Two central Arkansas business owners explained with the uncertainties surrounding what the school year will look like, plus some people still not feeling comfortable shopping in stores, they don't know what to expect with this very unique tax-free weekend.

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“Our expectations are pretty low, but we'll see. We're always hopeful and optimistic that things will be good,” said Jon Holcomb, owner of The Toggery in Little Rock.

Instead of crowded parking lots and long lines, it's sanitization stations and mask requirements.

“We prepared for back to school like we always have. We want to be stocked up and have products for people, even though they don't really know what's going to happen with school,” Holcomb said.

At The Toggery, no more than nine families were allowed inside to shop at a time and constant cleaning of heavy traffic areas was at the top of employees to-do's.

“We did clean a little bit more and made sure the store was a little safer, a little bit more user-friendly in terms of being able to maneuver through the store,” he explained.

While Holcomb said everything was business as usual for his children's boutique, one specific factor is making 2020's sales tax holiday different than the rest.

“Just the crowd overall. We've seen fewer people so far through the morning than we would this time in a normal year,” Holcomb added.

Even though the uniqueness of this year didn't change up the deals shoppers get at some stores, it's switching up what is flying off the shelves.

Knowledge Tree Manager Cece Preuett said teachers are buying much more than pens, pencils, and rulers.

“They’re also buying a lot of things that are essential in virtual learning," she explained. "They're also keeping in mind like, how is this gonna look in the background while I'm teaching and will it be visible.”

Preuett said this school supply store has always been a place people shop at to avoid the rush, so this year she believes they're at an advantage.

“We're definitely seeing a lot of people that are coming in, wanting to avoid crowds and hoping that this is a safer alternative than some of the bigger stores,” Preuett said.

Both businesses are hopeful the tax-free weekend reminds Arkansans to shop local.

The sales tax holiday continues until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

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