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Apple's Tax-Free iPads, iMacs Inspire Shoppers

The devices weren't new or on sale, but Apple's promotion of state tax holidays led to lengthy lines.
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BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Do you want U.S. Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report Stores to host sales? Write your state governor's office.

Last week Apple sent out e-mail notifications to its customers and set up a


to crank up the hype machine for several state tax holidays. But would dropping a 4% to 9% tax levy really sell more iPads and iMacs? Ask Massachusetts, which seemingly spent its weekend in line waiting to buy toys despite having a tax-free neighbor to the north in New Hampshire the other 363 days of the year. The state's tax break on all items below $2,500 put nearly the entire Apple catalog (excluding only the eight-core and 12-core Mac Pro) into play.

As a result, lines at the Apple Store on Boylston Street in Boston wrapped around the block. Local blog

Universal Hub

cited Twitter reports that store staff were handing out free bottles of Smart Water to potential consumers lining the sidewalk. The tableau repeated at Apple Stores in the CambridgeSide Galleria mall in Cambridge and the Natick Collection in Natick, with the latter's line still intact as the mall closed at 9 p.m.

So what was Apple's final tax-free tally? Hard to say. Apple isn't very forthcoming with this type of information and doesn't like to crow about sales anomalies in its weekly releases. With Massachusetts alone estimating a $20 million to $23 million loss in tax revenue and Apple pointing consumers to tax holidays in eight other states, Apple's cut of the two-day take could be substantial.

Other retailers including

Best Buy

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doubled their staffing for the weekend crush, but credit Apple for targeting its known audience early and creating demand. If consumers are willing to stand on line in August for a 6.25% discount, expect more companies to follow Apple's lead and direct their loyal customers to spend appropriately.

-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.


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Jason Notte is a reporter for His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.