Alden Holley says the customers at his Selma hardware store tend to wait until after an emergency to buy needed supplies. “We do get some sales (during the state’s severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday). We make a section. People come in for one thing and then they say, ‘Oh yeah, we can buy this tax free.'”
Holley True Value on Water Avenue in Selma is one of the stores where Alabamians can buy tax-free items this weekend to prepare for weather emergencies. The store sells batteries, flashlights, tarps, plastic sheeting, bungee cords, rope, tie-down kits, duct tape, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and gasoline containers. All of those items and more are tax free from 12:01 Friday until midnight Sunday.
“Just before a weather emergency, we’ll sell a lot of batteries,” said Holley. “Our customers buy tarps after,” he added.
At the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Prattville, batteries and tarps are best sellers on the tax-free weekend.
“Batteries are always one of the top sellers, because that is what the customers need to have around their house to fill their flashlights and weather radios,” said Troy Rogers, manager of the Prattville Lowe’s. “Tarps are one of our No. 1 sellers during any severe weather that happens to your roof. Tarps can prevent any further damage to your house.”
Rogers said, “Generators also sell real good. They are actually great for customers to have when they lose power, because they can have that power back in about 15 seconds if they have their generator ready to go in their home.”
During the severe weather sales tax holiday, Holley says he has to remind customers that the covered items are 10 percent off in Selma. “It is not really people preparing for the bad weather,” he said.
Rogers’ customers do stock up during the tax-free weekend. “We had a great turnout last year, and we hope a lot of customers get what they need for the severe weather.”
State officials purposely designed Alabama’s weather preparedness tax holiday, which always falls on the last full weekend of February, to occur before the height of both tornado and hurricane seasons. The three-day, tax-free weekend, which is in its fifth year, is intended to remind consumers to stock up on needed emergency supplies before disaster strikes. This year’s holiday actually follows a weather emergency. Gov. Robert Bentley placed the state under a state of emergency Tuesday. The National Weather Service confirmed five minor tornodoes occurred in Alabama that day.
Weather emergencies can mean increased sales for businesses like Holley True Value. Alden Holley, who along with his mother, Pat Conaway Holley, now owns the third-generation business, relates a story about increased sales of an overstocked item when his father ran the store.
“Back before we were even expecting (Hurricane) Ivan, my daddy bought pallets and pallets of yard rakes. I told him, ‘You are crazy daddy. That’s going to last us 20 years.’ When Ivan came through, my parents were out of town. We were communicating and I told them, ‘We could open up if you want me to,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, you need to sell those rakes I bought.’ I said, ‘We’ll sell some of them, but not very many.’ ”
This was a case of Daddy knows best.
“I guarantee you by the end of that day, nobody in Selma, Alabama, was selling rakes but us,” said Holley. “We just sold bookoodles and bookoodles of them.”
Rakes, while handy, are not one of the tax-free items during Feb. 26-28 holiday.
Get a complete list of the tax-free items to complete or build your home or office emergency kit here.
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