Tax holiday brings Christmas-like feel to Promenade

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shelby County’s sales tax holiday weekend helped one of the area’s largest shopping centers pull in some of its most profitable days yet, said Alabaster officials and business owners.

From Aug. 6-8, shoppers in Shelby County paid no sales tax on back-to-school items like books, clothing and computers.

The tax holiday brought a weekend comparable to the days after Thanksgiving for many retailers in Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade shopping center, and thousands of local and out-of-town shoppers flocked to the city throughout the weekend, said Alabaster Mayor David Frings.

“I’ve heard the tax holiday was every bit as strong as last year or stronger for a lot of our retailers,” Frings said. “You saw a lot of tags from other counties parked in the parking lot at the Promenade.”

Because this year marked the second straight year Jefferson County did not participate in the holiday, Alabaster was the closest major tax-free shopping destination for many in the Birmingham area.

The flood of shoppers from Shelby County and other areas meant big business for many Promenade retailers selling items on the tax-free list.

“We had a pretty stellar weekend. Friday blew last year’s total out of the water,” said Jason Camp, co-manager of Books-a-Million. “We did $9,000-plus on Friday, $10,000-plus on Saturday and $6,000-plus on Sunday.

“When I got here at 3 on Friday, I couldn’t believe the crowd that was already here,” Camp added.

Ty Cummings, assistant manager at Rue 21, said the clothing store also saw larger-than-normal crowds during the tax-free weekend.

“It was good,” Cummings said. “We saw more people than we do on a regular Saturday.”

Many stores, like the Chic-fil-A restaurant were much busier than they planned, Frings said.

“An employee at Chic-fil-A told (Alabaster Police) Chief (Stanley) Oliver that the store had to call in extra staff so they could serve all the customers in an orderly fashion,” Frings said. “Hopefully it helped our businesses and our residents.

“I had a few people come up to me and tell me they would come to Alabaster and shop even if we weren’t having the tax holiday because of the friendliness at all our stores,” Frings added. “Our city has really built a great reputation with shoppers.”