“It is a lot easier to be proactive than reactive,” when it comes to getting the supplies necessary for severe weather emergencies, said Art Frizzell III, co-owner of Consolidated Ace, which has stores in Dothan and Ozark. “You may not be able to get a generator or a gas can after a storm hits.”
Billy Betts III, the other owner of Consolidated Ace, which also operates four Ace Hardware stores in the Florida Panhandle, adds, “It is a given in the Panhandle/south Alabama region, at some point, we are going to face storms.”
Consolidated Ace, a second-generation family business, sells a vast array of goods, including hardware, pet and livestock food, seed, lawn and garden items and building supplies. It is among the many stores where Alabamians can buy tax-free items the last full weekend in February to prepare for weather emergencies.
“We try to talk to our customers, get them to prepare early,” said Billy. “The tax holiday helps with motivating them to make some purchases,” including batteries, flashlights and tarps, he said.
State officials purposely designed Alabama’s weather preparedness tax holiday to occur before the height of both tornado and hurricane seasons. The three-day, tax-free weekend, which is in its sixth year, seeks to remind consumers to stock up on needed emergency supplies before disaster strikes. This year’s holiday follows a weather emergency. The governor placed the state under a state of emergency Friday, Jan. 6, in preparation for Winter Storm Helena. Sleet and snow fell overnight that day in parts of central Alabama, including Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.
“What we see is so many people still don’t know about the tax holiday,” the Consolidated Ace owners said. Other Alabama retailers who sell the tax-free items report similar experiences. “When customers come in on the tax holiday weekend, and we offer to sell them a generator or some of the bigger ticket items, they are not prepared with their spendable cash to make that purchase at that time,” Billy said.
During the tax holiday, the state’s four-percent sales tax is waived on common emergency supplies costing less than $60 as well as generators costing $1,000 or less. As of Jan. 26, 222 of Alabama’s local governments had notified the Alabama Department of Revenue they also will waive their sales taxes on the covered items during the Feb. 24 – 26 tax holiday.
Like many retailers, Consolidated Ace offers specials on the covered items. “We will incentivize on top of the tax holiday,” said Billy. “We try to promote it in-house as much as we can.” Alabama Retail promotes the holiday statewide, plus provides retailers with downloadable signage to use in your store.
Consolidated Ace employs 25 at its two Alabama stores and another 70 in Florida. Art and Billy bought the Alabama portion of the business in November 2016 and the Florida portion in April 2016 from Art’s father, Art Frizzell II. The elder Frizzell bought the Florida enterprise in 2004 and the Dothan store in 2006. “I was born into the business,” Art III said. Billy has been a part of the company that dates back to 1975 for 21 years.