"You can imagine my shock," says Gadsden Flagg, the co-President and founder of Common Cents, a not-for-profit organization that, according to the group's website, "is dedicated to defending the true meaning of Tennessee's Tax Holiday."
"I'd just stopped in at my neighborhood pharmacy to pick up a Garfield Father's Day card for my lasagna-loving dad and there was this entire aisle devoted to nothing but pens, and notebooks, and stuff like that," Flagg says, recalling the moment when he stopped standing on the sidelines and became an activist.
"I saw a sweet protractor-and-compass set, and a couple of different kinds of pencil sharpeners. You name it, they had it on display. And I was like, 'This is so not right."
"We don't want to spoil anybody's fun," says Flagg's partner Houston Leavey. "We only want to remind people that our Tax Holiday isn't about how big your tree is or how hammered you're gonna get with all your fishing buddies. It's about saving 10-or-15 cents on a really nice three-ring binder. It's about being able to buy a year's worth of Scotch tape at one time. And it's all tax free so you don't have to worry about whose college tuition you might be subsidizing.
"All we've ever wanted is for people to stop and think about the real reasons why we shop for back-to-school supplies before going back to school," Leavey says.
Jed Blisterwig, who owns and operates Jed’s Clamp-It on Madison Ave, says his business triples during the holiday weekend even though nothing he carries is tax exempt.
"People are already out shopping and figure they might as well stop in for some clamps," says Blisterwig, who claims he's never even heard of Tax Holiday decorations.
"I've got no idea what you're talking about, to be honest," he says.