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ALLEN (CBS 11 NEWS) – Paying more to skip the crowds is a back to school shopping strategy some embraced Thursday before the start of the Texas Sales Tax Holiday weekend.

The tax holiday has meant big business over the years at Allen Premium Outlets and at other local shopping centers. In fact it’s been so successful, it’s prompting many shoppers to get a head start out of fear that the good stuff may all be gone once the holiday is here.

It may not be quite on the level of Black Friday, but Abby Brown says when the sales tax holiday comes just in time for back to school shopping…

“It’s stressful enough looking for school supplies, so it may feel that way,” Brown said.

The crowds aren’t the only challenge. Brown says in previous tax-free weekends, by the time you make your way to the shelves, many of the things you need are gone.

“And then you end up going to four different stores instead of just one,” Brown said.

“We did that last year and didn’t want to have to do it again this year,” Cheryl Smith said.

Smith and her daughter Kat say the last time they braved the weekend crowds it was too late for essential school supplies.

“Everything was out of place. There were very few items out. They were out of a lot of things,” Smith said.

The holiday is designed to give parents a break on items like clothes, shoes, backpacks, and other back to school items under $100. Stores spend several days in advance stocking up on popular items. That’s why shoppers like Brown and her son Hayden say it’s better to go ahead and pay the taxes and be sure you get what you need.

“I think he appreciates I’m getting it all done today,” Brown said.

Starting Friday stores at Allen Premium Outlets will open an hour earlier and stay open an hour later to accommodate the crowds. Many other local shopping centers are also extending hours for the tax holiday weekend.

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