Local sales taxes fuel city’s services

Published 4:15 pm Saturday, March 17, 2012

A sense of community is one goal the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce will be pushing to attain during next week’s Spend $21 on the 21st community wide event.

Several businesses around the Atmore city limits will be participating in the local shopping campaign that is encouraging residents and guests of the city to come into Atmore and take a look around at local shops.

Residents shopping in town should remember the support it gives the city, Sheryl Vickery, executive director for the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce said.

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“It’s a no brainer,” she said. “In order for our community to grow and for all of us to have a community, we must shop locally. The sales tax goes back into the community and it’s just important that we shop local. Especially, with gas prices the way they are, it really helps people save money if they shop here in Atmore.”

The money Atmore receives from the sales tax goes a long way towards improving the city.

When revenue from sales taxes are strong, the city is able to give residents more of what they want such as better roads and more public service, Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said.

“Only with the sales tax do we generate funds to help improve our city,” Shell said. “Those funds help pave streets and purchase new police cars. The more funds we receive through the sales tax, the more services we are able to provide.”

With so much riding on how sales taxes affect the city, it has been closely watched during the past year.

Whether or not the sales tax revenue has been strong or weak has largely depended on the outside factor of gas prices.

With gas prices going up and down, the revenue has been able to hold up fairly even, Shell said.

“We’ve been holding pretty well with our sales tax over the last year,” Shell said. “It really depends on how the gas prices fluctuate. If they are high then people are not really getting out and shopping compared to if they are lower. Overall, our taxes have leveled out and been good.”

Now, with the Spend $21 on the 21st taking place on Wednesday, Vickery and Shell will be closely watching to see if residents get out to help their local businesses, which will in turn help the city.

Stores taking part in the event will find an item or items that they can put together to sell for $21 with the hope that customers will look at more than just the sale item.

Pulling people into the stores and getting them to shop is the goal of the event, Vickery said.

“All of the stores will have something special on sale for $21 on the 21st,” she said. “What we are trying to do is get people to shop locally. We want to get them in these stores, so they can see what Atmore has to offer and shop. We have asked the stores to take part by offering something for $21 and they have responded well.”

At this time, 14 businesses have signed on to advertise their involvement for the event with more expected to follow.

Advertising is available in the paper, but businesses are also encouraged to advertise on their own if they see fit, Vickery said.

“Businesses are joining in for the event and we are still open to businesses to participate,” she said. “We are cooperating with The Atmore Advance in order to get advertising out about businesses that are participating. They may also advertise themselves if they would like to take part.”

Response to the event has been widespread throughout Atmore with more than just downtown businesses getting in on the action.

Shops as well as restaurants have a history of getting involved with the deals, Vickery said.

“It’s not just downtown,” she said. “All over town businesses, including restaurants, are participating with some kind of deal for $21. It gets people into the stores, and once they are in there then you have them. You can give them the right customer service and give them what they want. Once you do that one time, then they will come back.”

On the subject of why it is important to shop in town, the answer came quickly from Vickery.

The influence of a local shopper spending their money at home should be the support it puts into the city, she said.

The fun of seeing people roam from business to business around the city is something that Vickery enjoys taking in.

Finding people who go to more than one store has become a type of sport, she said.

“When we started this several years ago, it was like a game,” she said. “I say it was like a game because when I would visit one store and then go to another store, I would see people going from store to store to find deals. It really helps these businesses and it’s also a social affair.”

The current businesses signed on to participate include the Tot Shop, Country Charms, Godwin’s Florist, Coley’s Petals and Parties, Miche Bags, Jus Because, Marty’s Furniture, Central Farm Supply, Century Furniture and Sleep Shop, Acapulco Mexican Restaurant, Nan’s Country Café, David’s Catfish House and Amanda Thompson Photography.

For more information on the event contact the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce at 368-3305 or Malcolm Gideons at The Atmore Advance at 368-2123.