August 13th, 2007


Our Tax-Free Weekend in Massachusetts

A few years ago, in an attempt to spur the local economy, the state legislature of Massachusetts instituted a tax-free Saturday. On that Saturday, retailers were exempt from charging sales tax, and people shopped.

Those of us who keep the Jewish sabbath on Saturday were unable to participate, however, and last year the legislature extended the tax-free Saturday to a tax-free weekend partly on our behalf. The only problem was that last year's tax-free Sunday coincided with the Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av, a day that most of us wouldn't really use to go shopping. So this year, for the first time, Nomi and I were able to take advantage of the tax-free weekend.

Sunday morning we woke up early and returned some books and CDs to the library. After morning services at Kadimah, we drove out to Burlington to have breakfast with Nomi's parents and then do a little shopping.

I'm not sure if most people use the tax-free weekend just to shop serendipitously, or have a list of specific items they're intent on purchasing. In our case, it was definitely the latter, as we've had a few big-ticket items that we needed to get, and figured that this weekend would be a good weekend to acquire them.

So after breakfast, we headed straight to the Circuit City in Burlington to buy two items. The first, for ourselves, was a Bose SoundDock Digital Music System to use with our iPods. A few months ago, Nomi had expressed interest in getting speakers for the iPod, so we could listen to music while doing tasks in the apartment. As far as I was concerned, if we were going to buy speakers or a dock, the only one to get was Bose. It costs more, but I knew that the sound quality would be worth it.

Nomi set it up after we got home. I was right.

The other item we bought was a scanner, which is really an estate purchase, because we'll be using it to scan in all the old family photos that Mom kept in albums. This way, my brothers and I can all have copies of the photos, and I can keep the originals in storage. We ended up getting a Hewlett Packard Photosmart C5280 All-in-One Printer, Scanner, and Copier. After sifting through all the suggestions we received, and doing some research on the Internet, this just seemed like the best choice for us.

We stopped at my brother's house to pick up the DVDs of the Super 8 movies from my childhood, as well as the CDs of the slides that Mom took during her trip across the country. I was surprised to discover that Mom's slides included pictures from her wedding, and that the home movies included some sound movies as well as silent ones. (It was amusing to discover a segment in which my brother Jon and I reproduced a quick sketch from "The Muppet Show.")

After a break at home, Nomi and I went out again to do more shopping. The other big-ticket item we had saved for this day was framing. Nomi and I had some original artwork that we've been meaning to get framed for a while, and yesterday was the perfect day to do so. We went to the Corners in Newton, which was somewhat busy because of the tax-free day, so we waited. Eventually, a friendly staff member named Zach helped us out. The items we're framing include a photo of a lighthouse in Maine, given to us by a friend; an original pencil sketch of the comic book superhero Firestorm, done by Paul Gould; a page of original art from the Rod Espinosa adaptation of Alice in Wonderland; and the "Time Ablaze" painting by W.K. Gilbert. In the end, we're getting some gorgeous frames and matting, and the art is going to look cool. (Personally, I think that the "Time Ablaze" painting would look great in a museum...)

Since we were in Newton anyway, we went to Staples for some CD storage boxes and the New England Mobile Book Fair, where I bought the new Woody Allen collection "Mere Anarchy" as well as "The Insanity Defense," one volume combining his three previous books of humorous prose. (Jasper Fforde fans really ought to check out Allen's story "The Kugelmass Episode.") Then we went back home.

We did go out again to buy groceries and dinner from Taam China, but we hadn't planned those purchases for the tax-free weekend.

Thanks to the Massachusetts legislature for this boon. Let's do it again next year.