Photo by Thomas Breen

Ronecia Caserta: Eyeing “everything on clearance” on Monday.

Ronecia Caserta walked into EbLens looking for what most customers visiting the Whalley Avenue shoe store are looking for these days: school-appropriate shoes that don’t break the bank.

Caserta was one of a handful of customers browsing the shoe-filled walls of 60 Whalley Ave. midday on Monday, looking for new pairs of shoes for her two children as they prepare to return to school next week for their first days in first and fourth grade respectively.

Caserta toured the warehouse-style shoe store minutes before Mayor Justin Elicker, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, EbLens Merchange Chief Paul Eusebio and EbLens Store Vice President of Operations Dan Pierce held a press conference to launch the last week without statewide sales tax.

This means that between Sunday, August 21 and Saturday, August 27, customers who purchase apparel and footwear costing less than $100 per item do not have to pay the state’s 6.35% sales tax. during this period.

EbLens shoe store at 60 Whalley Ave.

What is Caserta looking for as she tries to figure out which shoes will be best for her young children as they prepare to head back to school next week?

Anything on clearance,” she says with a smile, looking at the discount tags on the shoes as she thinks about which pair to buy.

EbLens Chief Merchant Paul Eusebio (center) with Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz and EbLens Vice President Dan Pierce.

According to Eusebio, Pierce and EbLens sales associate Nia Roach, that kind of bargain-hunting for new back-to-school shoes is what shoe store employees hear again and again this year, so as continued national inflation and supply chain issues drive up the costs of most household items, including sneakers.

Normally these weeks of tax relief are pleasant surprises at the cash register,” Eusebio said. This year, more than ever, it’s something our customers will be anticipating. He predicted that the sales tax-free week will be one of the little things that will go a long way in helping shoppers save a few bucks when shopping for shoes, clothes, school bags and other back-to-school essentials. school.

Everyone wants to look good. Everyone wants to feel good,” he said.

On the wall at EbLens.

He said a typical new pair of shoes at EbLens costs between $80 and $90 these days, he said. This means that a customer, if they buy a few pairs of shoes and bags, can save $10, $15 or $20 on their entire order, thanks to the tax-free discount.

It’s a tough time for a lot of consumers, due to the challenges we have with inflation and supply chain issues,” Elicker said at Monday’s press conference. He described the sales tax-free week as a little help to make ends meet, as well as a great way to support local businesses.

What are the most requested and purchased shoes at EbLens this fall?

Something black is most common this type of year because of the dress code,” Eusebio said.

Sales clerk Nia Roach reviews her favorite shoes at EbLens: the pink New Balance 57/40s.

Sales associate Roach said the same thing. Students and their parents seek out all that is easy to match with uniforms,” she said.

Usually this means black or white Adidas or Fila or Puma shoes. When she was in middle school at Mauro Sheridan School in Westville, she remembered how imperative it was to have something simple on her feet to go with the school uniform.

But even though black and white shoes are the most in demand right now, she says, she’s still more drawn to kicks that offer a bit of color.

Like her favorite shoes on the walls of EbLens, a pair of all-pink New Balance 57/40s.

I really like the color combinations,” she said of assessing New Balance’s offerings more broadly.

Roach’s Colorful Crocs.

She’s a big fan of colorful shoes, she said, as evidenced by the kaleidoscopic Crocs she wore to work on Monday.

Another EbLens staffer is kicking Star Wars themed kicks.

She wasn’t the only EbLens sales associate to show off some idiosyncratic style on her feet Monday.

Another seller, in between discussions with this reporter about how anything black or white” is big right now, showed off her Star Wars-themed white Adidas – with Princess Leia on the left foot and Darth Vader on the right.

Click the Facebook Live video below to watch Monday’s full press conference.