Shoppers get a break from the tax man

Ashley Whitt, 12, left, and her mother, Amanda Whitt, both of Clovis, shop Saturday at North Plains Mall during tax-free days. Photo by Eric Kluth.

By Janet Bresenham

Some shoppers didn’t have to travel far to find back-to-school bargains at the North Plains Mall this weekend during Tax-Free Days.
The Clovis mall’s tax-free sales event, which began Friday and continues today, even attracted some shoppers from across the Texas border.
Lia Marquez and her daughter Elisa, 14, drove from Littlefield, Texas, specifically for Tax-Free Days shopping in New Mexico to buy back-to-school clothes.
“We always come every year when Clovis has tax-free shopping at the mall,” Marquez said. “We don’t have to mess with the bigger crowds like they have in Texas and they have the same stores, so we like it here.”
For the fourth year in a row, many merchants at the North Plains Mall chose to pay the 6.375 percent sales tax on merchandise — either directly or through discounts.
Tax-Free Days came about in Clovis because business owners wanted a way to compete for back-to-school sales with Texas — where lawmakers have authorized tax-free shopping the first weekend in August for five years.
Angie Rodriguez of Clovis said her sister, who is visiting from Oceanside, Calif., had planned to hit the Texas sales until she found out she didn’t have to drive out of town to find bargains.
“My sister wanted to go shopping in Lubbock, but I said, ‘Let’s go shopping here,’” said Rodriguez, who has a 5-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. “So we did all our back-to-school shopping and now we’re done. They had sales on everything you needed.”
Her sister, Dolores Candelaria, said she was thrilled to find all the school clothes for her three children, ages 6, 8 and 10.
“We heard there were no-taxes sales and when you’ve got three girls, you’ve got to save as much as you can,” Candelaria said. “We heard Texas was having no taxes, too, but they’ve got very good deals right here in Clovis.”
Dolores’ husband, Anthony Candelaria, said he spent Saturday afternoon making trips back and forth from the mall to their van, as his wife and sister-in-law loaded up with sales items.
“It’s some good deals here at the mall,” he said. “Even the food court was tax-free, so we could eat for less, too, which was great.”
Vickie Marin of Clovis, who was shopping with her son, Jonathon, 14, said Tax-Free Days brought her to the mall Saturday.
“We’ve got to get all his school clothes and at his age, he wants the name brands, the cool clothes and jeans, jeans, lots of jeans,” Marin said. “We usually shop in Clovis 99 percent of the time. We try to keep our dollars here in Clovis.”
Amanda Whitt, whose family has been stationed at Cannon Air Force Base for two years, said she appreciated the opportunity to stay in Clovis and get all her shopping done.
“So far, we saved a good amount of money and got some great deals,” Whitt said. “Last year, I went to Lubbock. It was great saving the tax dollars right here in Clovis.”
At Beall’s Department Store, manager Dominick Urioste had one word to sum up the success of Tax-Free Days.
“Awesome,” Urioste said. “Both days have been really good so far. We’ve done it for four years and more people seem to be staying here to shop.”