Chicago Retailers Brace for Sales Take Hike

While hobby retailers around the country are worried about the impact of the nation’s economy on their business, several stores in the Chicago area have something else to worry about – a dramatic hike in the sales tax that will go into effect July 1.

Earlier this year, Cook County approved an increase in the county’s sales tax. Combined with an increase in the state sales tax that went into effect last week, retailers in Cook County will soon be charging customers 10.25 percent in sales tax. It’s the highest sales tax of any county in the nation. The previous rate was 9 percent.

“We’re not looking forward to it, because it’s almost certainly going to affect us on larger purchases,” said John Arcand, owner of Big John & Little Debby’s in Chicago and head of the Northern Illinois Hobby Retailers group. “The problem is the sales tax in neighboring counties is going to be anywhere from 1-3 percent lower than Cook County. We’re going to have to make up that difference if we want to be competitive.”

Arcand said the NIHR’s biggest concern is that the tax gives customers another reason to consider shopping online rather than in hobby stores.

Keith McDonough of Bleachers Sports Cards in Winnetka said he’s optimistic the tax won’t have a significant impact on his business. “The constant themes in our store are excellent service and competitive prices,” he said. “In this business, virtually everything is negotiable. So if someone asks me for a price on a Michael Jordan rookie, and I quote him $800, I don’t think he’s going to go to another store to save 1 percent.”

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