Local clothing retailers nervous about proposed tax on apparel

2013-01-15T00:00:00Z 2013-01-15T16:11:08Z Local clothing retailers nervous about proposed tax on apparelBy Mary Juhl | mary.juhl@winonadailynews.com Winona Daily News

A proposed sales tax on clothing could bring frowns from Minnesota nice retailers if it passes through the state legislature.

“I’d have to up prices, and that’s going to be hard for everyone else,” said L&L Fashions & More owner Lennie Brooks.

Brooks opened his clothing store at the Winona Mall just three months ago, and said a clothing sales tax could pose challenges to stores selling apparel — particularly new and small businesses where every dollar counts.

Dan Sersha, owner of the General Store of Winona, said lawmakers should explore other options. He said he’s concerned it could eliminate a competitive advantage over Wisconsin shops, where clothing is already taxed.

“All businesses in Winona will hurt some from it,” Sersha said. “It’ll be a level playing field.”

Winona Christopher & Banks manager Annette Edholm agreed, saying shoppers sometimes choose area stores rather than making the trek to La Crosse simply to avoid the sales tax.

“I just think all customers in Minnesota are going to be complaining about that, because we’re so used to not paying that sales tax,” Edholm said.

Not everyone thinks the proposed sales tax would harm day-to-day operations in local clothing stores.

“I don’t think it would really affect (sales) that much,” said Winona Sports Unlimited owner Andrew Gierok of his downtown apparel shop. “We’re talking about a small percentage that we give back to the state, which I think would be a good thing.”

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