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Shoppers approach J.C. Penney at Hamilton Place Mall on Friday during the tax free weekend.

There was a line about 125 feet long in front of Best Buy on Gunbarrel Road before it opened Friday, said Tom Huskin, a manager at the store.

"Behind Black Friday, this is No. 2 for us," he said of how busy the store will be this weekend.

The reason for the increase in business is the annual Tennessee sales tax holiday that started Friday and goes through Sunday night. The effort is mainly for, but not limited to, back-to-school items — clothes and shoes under $100 and laptops under $1,500. There also are some more obscure items that fall under the exemption like lingerie, cowboy hats and prom dresses. A full list of tax-exempt items is available on Tennessee's Department of Revenue website.

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J.C. Penney employee Ellis Freeman rings-up Kathy Holt, left, as she and her family check out after a day of shopping tax free at Hamilton Place Mall on Friday.

At Best Buy, sales tax is 9.25 percent. But this weekend that tax is waived, giving customers about a 10 percent decrease overall in price. Best Buy also capitalizes on the traffic by offering special sales, too.

"We see a lot of people from Georgia," Huskin said. "Because their cap [on laptops] is $1,000, while we're at $1,500."

The store has more people working the floor than usual, he said, because management doesn't want customers to feel rushed. He said the hottest-selling items so far are Apple products, because they usually have higher price tags.

"It was extremely busy this morning," Huskin said at around 1 p.m. "We're in a lull right now, but we'll see more of an uptick from 5 to 7 tonight when people get off work."

Nathan Harrold, a general manager at J.C. Penney, also said the sales tax holiday weekend is the second-busiest time of the year there and is extremely profitable.

"If you can't tell," he said, pointing to a clothes section where nearly everything was on sale with dozens of people shopping, "it looks like Black Friday in here."

Tracy Hubbard traveled from Alabama, which has its own sales tax holiday this weekend, to come shop for back-to-school supplies. For her, it's either Huntsville, Ala., or Chattanooga, and she chose to come to the Scenic City because it's closer to her home. She comes every year to take advantage of the holiday.

"Oh, it's great," she said. "Clothes, shoes, everything. It saves you a lot of money."

Contact staff writer Evan Hoopfer at ehoopfer@timesfreepress.com or twitter.com/Evan Hoopfer or 423-757-6731.

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