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Ready, set; shop

Let the school shopping – and the saving – begin.
The annual sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and ends at midnight Sunday, Aug. 3.
In June, the Brewton City Council voted to participate in the eighth annual statewide event that gives shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain school supplies, computers, and clothing free of state sales or use tax. In the City of Brewton, that means a discount of 8 percent – or 4 percent state sales tax and 4 percent city sales tax. The county commission did not vote to participate in this year’s event. Commissioners said since 82 percent of the county sales tax proceeds in the City of Brewton go to the city and county schools, they didn’t want to cut into school revenue.
Examples of included items are clothing items priced at $100 or less per item; computers and computer supplies; school supplies, including school art supplies and instructional material, with a sales price of $50 or less; and books priced at $30 or less.
This is the first time in five years Brewton has opted to participate in the sales tax holiday.
“Shopping is an entirely different process than it was even a decade ago,” said Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace. “Today, people have many choices when they decide to make a purchase. They can order it online or head to Pensacola, and we all make those choices sometimes.
“Realistically, Brewton is a regional shopping center and people come here from miles around to make purchases on a regular basis,” he said. “What we have tried to do is expand that base of shoppers by holding events and adding scenery to capture peoples’ attention. We have a geocaching event coming up and recently had the re-enactment in the last few days. Hopefully, those draw people to our city who have never visited here before. They will see the flowers downtown and will see some of our stores and find things available here they never knew about.
“Then we hope they come back again to enjoy our shopping and take part in things we have going on,” he said. “All the events we hold here are designed to bring people here, and hopefully, they will come back and shop or visit a restaurant here.”
Lovelace said since not all the items purchased this weekend will qualify for the tax-break, it means revenue for the city.
“When they do, their tax dollars help fund services and our school system,” he said. “Fully 25 percent of our sales taxes go to schools – and ours were ranked No. 7 in a statewide academics poll recently, and were named to the list of bronze schools nationwide by U.S. News and World Report. Those are the real benefits of expanding our tax base, the investment in our future.”