Holiday shoppers feeling PIF pain at Meadows
Shopping at Glenwood Meadows is about to become very expensive – unless you’re shopping at Petco. In January, the Glenwood Springs sales tax will increase by 1/4 cent, increasing the total sales tax citywide to 8.2 percent. At most Glenwood Meadows stores, you’ll pay at least 9.8 percent in taxes and fees because all the stores there except Petco add a taxable 1.5 percent public improvement fee to each purchase to repay the developer for infrastructure improvements. Because the PIF is added to the price of the purchase and the total will be taxed 8.2 percent, an item with a price tag of $99.99 will actually cost you $109.81. A $299.99, 30 gigabyte iPod at Radio Shack in the Glenwood Springs Mall will cost $324.59 with tax. The same iPod will cost $329.46 at Target. The PIF won’t increase the cost of an item at Petco, because the company is footing the cost of the PIF without letting the expense trickle down to consumers – for now. “Petco is indeed paying that tax,” said Don Cowan, Petco spokesman. “It was an operational decision. How long we’re going to do it, I don’t know.”Though the checkout areas at Target and other Meadows stores are packed with customers this holiday shopping season, many don’t know much about the PIF if they know about it at all. Many who know aren’t very enamored with it. Lowe’s shopper Mike Clary, of Parachute, said the stores don’t adequately notify customers that they’re being charged more to shop at Meadows stores than elsewhere in town. “Everything we’ve bought from Target this year we’ve bought from downvalley in Grand Junction just because of the fee,” he said. “They don’t want anybody to really know about it, it seems like, because it is technically an additional tax.”The city of Glenwood Springs requires stores at the Meadows to inform customers about the PIF with signs at each checkout stand, but some stores make them more obvious than others. Pier 1 Imports places very clear and easily legible signs – the largest signs of any store at the Meadows – at each register explaining plainly what the PIF is and how it is taxed. Gart Sports has a small PIF sign at each checkout counter and another on the front door. Both Bed Bath & Beyond and Lowe’s have small but legible signs at each register, but not on the front door. Target has installed very small PIF signs behind each checkstand using a small typeface that may be difficult to read for some customers.Petco doesn’t have any signs because it doesn’t charge customers the PIF. “We’re going to need to go around and basically see who’s in compliance,” city manager Jeff Hecksel said, adding that the city will likely encourage voluntary compliance from each store. The city has received “a few” complaints about the lack of information about the PIF available at the stores, but many customers don’t pay attention, he said. While most Meadows stores itemize the sales tax added to each purchase on each sales receipt, Hecksel said stores aren’t required to do so because the computer systems at many large national retailers aren’t easily modified to include information about the PIF. That’s why the city compromised and required each store to post information about the PIF at each cash register, he said. How Chili’s, which is set to open Dec. 15, will add the PIF to customers’ meals is unclear, said Chris Barnes, spokesman for Brinker International, Chili’s’ parent company. “I don’t know exactly how that’s going to be incorporated into the check,” Barnes said, adding that the local restaurant manager also was unsure. Target shopper Lisa Booth, of Basalt, said she plans to do a third of her holiday shopping at Glenwood Meadows, but she called the PIF “the bad part.””I think it’s high,” she said. “It’s not going to stop me from shopping here, I don’t think.”Pier 1 Imports shopper Linda Loeschen, also of Basalt, said she was trying to buy all her holiday presents at Meadows, but doubted she would finish her shopping there because she was reminded about the PIF. “I was aware and then I forgot about it,” she said, with a Gart Sports package in her hand. “That’s a huge tax. Almost 10 percent. I’m getting discouraged while we’re talking.”Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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