Fentress sees sales tax rise amidst 'shop local' success

7:03 PM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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The Fentress County Chamber of Commerce says their 'Shop Fentress First' program is helping convince people to use their money to benefit their local economy.

"The quickest way we can affect the economy here in Fentress County is to get our local residents to spend their money locally," says Executive Director Walt Page.

Like their page on Facebook and you're going to get a lot of updates.

The page posts several times a week, sometimes even several times a day, welcoming new members to the chamber and reminding residents to shop.

And he says it's working.

He says Fentress County's sales tax numbers for the past 12 months show an increase of more than $136,000 compared to the same period last year.

And local chamber members are taking notice too.

"I think it has made a tremendous impact," says local Merle Norman co-owner Denise Williams.

She went in to business with her mother and sister twenty six years ago, and now their downtown shop includes cosmetics handbags and jewelry.

She says they've welcome customers who've taken advantage of the chamber's holiday coupon offer, but also patrons who report becoming more aware of where they spend their money.

"We have had a lot of people come in and say 'well, we saw the chamber's ad or we heard this and thought we'd stop here first,'" says Williams.

And she says that translates in to a stronger Jamestown.

"With our business dollars,that's what we do, is put money back in to our community," says Williams.

Page says the 'shop first' effect becomes even more evident when examining sales tax numbers from the winter months.


"When the tourists aren't really coming to Fentress County and the sales tax increases for that part of the month,we know the shop local program is working," says Page.

They haven't calculated what the county's cut of the state sales tax revenue will add up to. But Page says the more people spend in their county, the more sales tax will trickle down to the local level as well.

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