‘A new opportunity to give us a leg up’: Johnson City businesses react to approval of two tax free weekend holidays

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TENNESSEE (WJHL) For the first time, Tennesseeans will have two weekends to make purchases without sales tax on specific items at the end of July.

The Tennessee General Assembly approved those as part of the 2020-2021 state budget.

Pheben Kassahun spoke with business owners in downtown Johnson City about how this could help them recover.

Business owners in Downtown Johnson City said the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them back on meeting their sales goal. Business owners anticipate the tax free weekend will help their them as they struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the start of COVID-19, non-essential businesses like Owl’s Nest were forced to close their doors.

“That impacted our store a lot because we weren’t able to have customers come in and shop, and we weren’t having buy-ins at the store. We run off buy-ins,” Owl’s Nest assistant manager, Katie Walls said.

On Friday, the Tennessee General Assembly passed two sales tax holidays to help local economies. The first, at the end of July, will exempt purchases on school supplies and clothing.

Walls said, “We have some giveaways and we try to make it more like home here at the store so we’ll have maybe refreshments and maybe we’ll have some sales.”

The first weekend in August, restaurants will also get a sales tax holiday.

“We’re so excited that this is going to give us a new opportunity to give us a leg up,” Go Burrito! Johnson City general manager, Nicole Arnold said.

Arnold had to lay off all but seven of her team at the peak of the pandemic.

“We were starting to build. We are a small business and it’s a struggle everyday. Especially to be a downtown business but once COVID-19 hit, it really impacted us,” Arnold said.

She hopes her loyal customers will return.

Arnold said, “People are going to be out shopping and they’re going to be visiting other shops and other stores and as a restaurant, being tax free for a weekend, that’s going to drive people into your restaurant more.”

The first sales tax holiday will be the weekend of July 31 and the second will be the weekend of August 7.

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