The sales tax break is for purchases less than $100. From glue sticks and notebooks to clothes and shoes, shoppers are taking advantage of the savings.
Parents speaking with ABC7 said every little bit helps.
Governor Quinn defended his back-to-school sales tax holiday, despite the loss in revenue to a state that is desperately in need of money.
The governor says he believes the 5 percent state tax break will be a boost to business and will lure customers to buy items in the stores not on the list, thereby increasing the tax revenue for the state.
Quinn says he believes it is a win-win situation.
"This is a way to save money for everyday families," said the governor.
Quinn appeared at the Sears Store on State Street to kick off the 10-day tax break Friday Sears opened it doors at 6 a.m. in support of the tax reprieve.
"Sears, as a company, really wants to support the state. We have additional discounts," said Harvey Isom, Sears manager.
The Target store on Roosevelt Road was packed Friday with customers taking advantage of the first ever tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers.
Laurie Mukoyama, her husband and two children were making sure they purchased the items selected for the tax holiday.
"Even though we both have jobs, we still want to be cautious with our money. That's why we've got our coupons, we've got the tax holiday today," said Mukoyama.
More than 200 back-to-school essentials are on the list, including book bags, binders, crayons, erasers, glue, pencils, notebook paper, scissors, supply boxes, writing tablets and much more.
"I think it is great and a big help, especially in these tough economic times," shopper Jeanie Washington said.
"It is going to help me out with my six children. Everybody is in different schools and different grades," parent Shaviona Lewis said. "I am here now with my list and trying to get it all done."
In order to take advantage of the tax break, clothing must cost less than $100 per item. Eligible items are shoes, coats, rainwear, uniforms, pants, dresses, skirts and shirts.
"It is under $100 per item, but it is an unlimited amount of items," said the Target store's Leanne Wiborg. "It has been great, so far. Our business has really picked up today. We have seen a lot more excitement from shoppers coming in with lists."
Shopper Betty Joe Bailey allowed her three children who attend Mark Sheridan school to select on the list.
"It will be worthwhile for me to come back and shop more. I've got to get my list together," she said.
For the next 10 days, the 5 percent portion of the state sales tax will be waived, while local government sales taxes will continue to be collected.
Computers, computer supplies, sports equipment, electronics, instructional materials and art supplies do not qualify for a tax break.
Both stores ABC7 Chicago visited Friday have hired staff to answer shoppers' questions about the tax holiday.
More details on what qualifies and what doesn't:
Qualifying: Most clothing items under $100, including jeans and pants, shirts, dresses, jackets and coats, belts, etc. Bathing suits. Rain coats. School backpacks, book bags and lunch boxes. Most shoes, sandals and boots under $100, including sneakers. Many school supplies, including binders, notebook paper, pens, crayons, rulers, etc.
Not Qualifying: Umbrellas. Hair bows and barrettes; jewelry and watches; non-prescription sunglasses. Handbags, wallets and briefcases. Spiked athletic shoes. Computers and computer accessories and cell phones.