Eric Anthony Rodriguez

Eric Anthony Rodriguez

I went shopping over the weekend. I knew I would be getting at least a seven percent discount on the clothing items that I purchased since it was tax-free weekend. Seeing the widely-varying prices for some of the items made me think seriously about what people are willing to pay for things.

Some of the markdowns, on the shirts in particular, made me wonder if anyone was ever willing to pay full price for this item. I bought a shirt that was originally priced $79 for $16. Such drastic deviations from the price actually paid and the original asking price make me question the price that is attached to anything. Did anyone actually pay $79 for a dress shirt with line drawings of various animals on it? The bill reminded me of a bill you might get after having a procedure done at a hospital. Those hospital bills also include a price no one really pays, the part your insurance company pays, and the amount you end up paying. Somehow it doesn’t feel as convoluted when you are dealing with a shirt and not a needed medical procedure.

Another thing that amazed me was the difference between the prices in the men’s section and the women’s. I had my daughters with me at the mall in Tallahassee. They said they needed some jeans. I got excited when I saw some jeans for $10 in the men’s section. I was filled with joy at the possibility of finding a similar deal in the women’s section for my daughters. We had no such luck. They ended up buying some jeans that were marked just under the $60 threshold for items to be tax-free. Those jeans were in the buy one get one half off section. So two pairs of jeans for them cost me $90. I could have purchased nine pairs of men’s jeans for that amount, which for me would have been a lifetime supply.

I noticed a couple of other things when I looked at my receipts from both Leon and Suwannee counties. One thing I noticed was that I paid a $5 donation at Bass Pro Shops. I don’t remember anyone asking me if I wanted to make a donation. Another thing I noticed is that Leon County charges a 7.5 percent sales tax rate, and Suwannee County charges a 7 percent sales tax rate. I started to wonder what Suwannee County could do for its residents if it collected half a percent more in sales taxes. Maybe students at Suwannee and Branford High Schools would have a rubber track to run on like the students in Leon County get to run on.

Then there is always the price we pay for gas. One of the best parts of driving to Tallahassee, or Valdosta, or heck almost anywhere else is the gas discount. Why are gas prices in Suwannee County so high? Is our gas here of better quality? Many of our residents might end up way ahead if our gas prices were lower and our sales tax rate was like Leon County’s.

Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at

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