Donate a backpack, get a free chocolate factory tour

Hoffman’s Chocolates is giving away free behind-the-scenes tours of its Greenacres factory to those who donate a backpack as part of its back-to-school drive.

Photo credit: Hoffman’s Chocolates
Photo credit: Hoffman’s Chocolates

The company’s “Backpack Donation Drive” benefits elementary school students in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Anyone who donates a new school backpack before Aug. 15 will receive two vouchers for a FREE Chocolate Factory Tour at Hoffman’s Chocolates Factory, Shoppe, Ice Cream Parlour and Gardens, located at 5190 Lake Worth Road in Greenacres. The free tours will take place on Saturday, September 10th.

Backpacks can be donated at the following Hoffman’s locations:

  • Greenacres: 5190 Lake Worth Road
  • Lake Worth: 705 Lake Avenue
  • Palm Beach Gardens: 10957 North Military Trail
  • Fort Lauderdale: 920 East Las Olas Boulevard
  • Hollywood: 341 Sheridan Street
  • Plantation: The Fountains – 801 South University Drive
  • Weston: Weston Town Center – 1727 Main Street

“We are pleased to be collecting backpacks for the children of Palm Beach and Broward County,” said Lois Marino, Director of Marketing for Hoffman’s Chocolates. “For over 40 years, Hoffman’s Chocolates has been supporting our community and we are proud to carry on the tradition by creating a back-to-school drive.”

During the 15-minute tour, participants will receive a firsthand look at how Hoffman’s gourmet chocolates and confections are melted, molded, carved, and wrapped. In addition to the tours, Hoffman’s Chocolates will also feature samplings of its gourmet chocolates and confections.

Reservations are required for the Chocolate Factory Tours and will be scheduled on a first come, first serve basis, the company said.

More parents shopping early for back-to-school items

In an effort to minimize the hit to their wallets, a growing number of parents are hitting the stores early to buy supplies for their children.

Alexandra De Castro, 12, and her stepmother Rhonda De Castro shop for clothes at the JC Penny store in the Mall at Wellington Green on Aug. 13, the first day of the back-to-school sales tax break. Alexandra will be a 7th grader at Eagles Landing Middle School. Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post
Alexandra De Castro, 12, and her stepmother Rhonda De Castro shop for clothes at the JC Penny store in the Mall at Wellington Green on Aug. 13, the first day of the back-to-school sales tax break. Alexandra will be a 7th grader at Eagles Landing Middle School. Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post

A study released last week by the National Retail Federation found 7 out of 10 shoppers plan to begin shopping at least three weeks before the start of classes — that’s an increase of nearly 20 percent from 2015.

The reason: Early bird shopping helps spread out the cost of the supplies over several pay checks.

Retailers are also offering more early bird deals, and many parents say the promotions are simply too good to pass up, according to the federation.

“Early bird shopping is really bolstered by The Great Recession as consumers adopted smarter shopping habits to avoid racking up credit cards and bills and debt,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst with Prosper Insights and Analytics, which completed the survey for the federation.

Florida’s popular sales tax holiday is set for Aug. 5-7. During the three-day weekend, shoppers won’t be charged the state’s 6 percent sale tax on certain school-related items. School starts in Palm Beach County on Aug. 15.

Back-to-school spending is expected to reach $75.8 billion this year, up from $68 billion in 2015, the survey found.

Families of elementary, middle and high school age children plan to spend an average of $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, up 6.8 percent from last year’s $630.36, the federation said.

College students and their families plan to spend an average of $888.71. That’s down slightly from $899.18 last year, the federation said.

Back-to-school spending to reach $75.8 billion

Back-to-school spending is expected to reach $75.8 billion this year, up from $68 billion in 2015, according to the National Retail Federation.

Associated Press file photo
Associated Press file photo

Families of elementary, middle and high school age children plan to spend an average of $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, up 6.8 percent from last year’s $630.36, the federation said.

College students and their families plan to spend an average of $888.71. That’s down slightly from $899.18 last year, the federation said.

Back-to-School sales tax holiday back in state proposal

The Florida Retail Federation on Thursday praised state lawmakers for returning  a back-to-school tax break to a tax proposal currently under consideration in Tallahassee.

080112 (Photo by Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post). INDIANTOWN. School supplies Indiantown Community Outreach will give away during the 5th annual Back to School Bash on Aug. 11.
080112 (Photo by Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post). INDIANTOWN. School supplies Indiantown Community Outreach will give away during the 5th annual Back to School Bash on Aug. 11.

The federation said a strike all amendment filed in the Senate last month would have remove the sales tax holiday from the House tax package (HB 7099).

The Senate was slated to hear the strike all amendment on Tuesday but temporarily postponed the discussion. A scaled back version of popular tax break was returned to the proposal today.

Last year’s back-to-school tax holiday ran for 10 days. Under the new proposal, this year’s tax break would span just 3-days, the federation said.

“On behalf of Florida’s 270,000 retailers and the millions of Floridians who all rely on this holiday, I want to thank the House and Senate for recognizing the importance of the Back-to-School sales tax holiday and returning it to the tax package,” said FRF President/CEO Randy Miller. “We look forward to the positive impact this 3-day sales tax holiday will have on Florida retailers’ bottom line, as consumers take advantage of buying their supplies while also saving money.”

The federation said consumers have come to rely on the sales tax holiday. Retail experts argue that shoppers prefer salestax holidays over sales and discounts offered by individual retailers.

The tax break also boosts wages for retail employees, the federation said.