June's Small Business Week brought many consumers into Hudson's shops, reminding us of the networks that sustain our community. With renewed support for Hudson's storefronts, and a 69-27 Senate approval of the Marketplace Fairness Act, it's time to adopt a long overdue policy impacting consumers and retailers alike: fair tax collection.
For 5-plus years, our store on N. Main Street has thrived, thanks to our committed staff and the unique, affordable toys and gifts we sell. We've earned a reputation for expertise, quality toys, and earnest service.
However, for some our store has become a pit stop: a place to get product advice before buying online.
As Internet sales have grown, we have worked to keep customers by maintaining competitive prices. But we cannot combat the tax-dodge prices offered by online retailers. When consumers find "bargains" online for 6.5 percent cheaper than in our store, it's neither because online retailers are more competitive nor because we are greedier.
The price difference comes from government policies that require us to charge sales taxes but don't demand the same from online retailers. Current Ohio law requires consumers to calculate and remit these taxes independently to the state. Yet compliance is in the single digits. The result is a de facto subsidy for well-established Internet retailers at the expense of Hudson's brick-and-mortar stores. While I'm willing to compete on price, service, convenience, and other determinants of success, I cannot compete with a government price advantage given to my online competitors.
Senators Brown and Portman acknowledged this injustice by voting for the Marketplace Fairness Act. I urge the rest of Ohio's congressional delegation to follow suit and restore fairness to local businesses nationwide. We cannot afford to have our representatives turn a blind-eye to selective tax dodging. It's time to restore free enterprise and level the playing field.
Michelle Sahr, Owner of My Little Red Wagon, Hudson