Sales Tax Holiday Boosts Emergency Preparation Sales, Education Efforts

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By Brittany Bivins

It's Alabama's Disaster Preparedness Tax-Free Holiday this weekend. That allows people to buy emergency supplies, without having to pay sales tax. And some emergency management agencies and local vendors are using that to get their messages out.

More than 200 people, 10 public service agencies and a dozen local vendors came to butler county's emergency preparation event in the parking lot of a Greenville shopping center.

"They're already out shopping, if they have to get a weather alert radio, they're out, so they can just come wherever we're holding the event and get it programmed, I think it's just a good mix of having us out there, and the public out while they're doing their shopping for the items," said Shirley Sandy, Butler County EMA Director.

The holiday lets Alabamians skip sales tax on items like batteries, first-aid kits and generators. Vester Bass was out shopping when he saw the expo and stopped to look at storm shelters. He says events like these are a good way to get people like him to make those big purchases. "They just go outside to do something and then they find out about things and that's when they get interested, because I was not interested in nothing until I came up here,"he said.

T

hat's exactly what vendors who specialize in emergency preparation services are counting on. Combining it with the tax-free weekend is a fantastic idea, because it gets people in the mindset of getting prepared before something happens, so that they don't make bad decisions after something happens," said Eric Peterson, ServPro Marketing Representative.

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Sure, yeah, and especially in this economy, anybody wants to save, even 100 dollars or 50 dollars, any amount is going to help people who just seem to be really tight in this economy," said Merry Hardy, owner of Lake Martin Storm Shelters

Butler County EMA officials

say they think they had a good turnout for their first event, and they plan to make it an annual tradition.

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