Sales tax holiday set for upcoming weekend

Apple Blossom Mall is set to celebrate Virginia’s annual sales tax holiday this weekend.

On Saturday, the mall will have a back-to-school indoor carnival between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and a craft and vendor show between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Tara Highland-McInturff, director of mall marketing for the mall, said that individual stores may also have sales to celebrate the tax holiday.

“Customers can enjoy their extra-special savings on their favorite items,” Highland-McInturff said.

Every year, Virginia has three days — on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this year — when people do not have to pay sales tax on some schools supplies, clothing, emergency preparedness items and some environmentally friendly items. A full list of the qualifying items can be found at https://tax.virginia.gov/virginia-sales-tax-holiday.

The sales tax holiday comes right before many schools in the area start. Shenandoah County Public Schools is starting on Monday, Warren County Public Schools is starting on Aug. 13, Frederick County Public Schools is starting on Aug. 15 and Winchester Public Schools is starting on Aug. 9.

The holiday, Highland-McInturff said, has become a significant event for Virginia businesses.

“Back-to-school has become one of our largest shopping weekends of the year,” Highland-McInturff said.

The tax holiday is also an opportunity for people to donate items to Bright Futures Frederick-Winchester. Bright Futures is going to have a “stuff the bus” event at the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester as well as at the Wal-Mart locations in Stephens City and Winchester.

Nancy Mango, the coordinator of that program, said that the “stuff the bus event” allows people who are already out shopping for school supplies to buy items for families who can’t afford school supplies.

“Our hopes are that those who are out shopping for our own families will be able to pick up a couple extra items up,” Mango said.

Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Apple Blossom Mall, Bright Futures will accept new clothing items. Representatives from Bright Futures will be at all three entrances to the mall accepting donations. They will also hand people sheets of paper describing the types of items they are looking for.

Representatives from Bright Futures will also be at the Wal-Marts in Stephens City and Winchester between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday accepting donations of new school supplies. Again, they will provide lists of the items they are looking for.

People can also visit the Bright Futures distribution center at 178 Indian Hollow Road in Winchester or call the distribution center at 540-667-2490 if they would like to donate items but cannot make it to any of the “stuff the bus” events.

Mango said that Bright Futures has held “stuff the bus” events for several years but that this is the first one to be held at Apple Blossom Mall.

“School supplies are just expensive,” Mango said. “We talk to families and you’re talking several hundred dollars to get kids ready to go to school very often. So we wanted to look at how could we really figure out how to best serve our kids.”

After Bright Futures receives donations, the organization hears from Winchester Public Schools and Frederick County Schools about any children who need help getting school supplies or clothing. They will fill up backpacks or provide clothing to the students who need them.