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Kelowna shops make PST switch, for better or worse

Customers at Bernard Avenue's Bread & Co. were paying less tax on their coffee and snacks this morning.
April 01, 2013 - 2:05 PM

By Julie Whittet

Cash registers in Kelowna's shops and restaurants were printing their first HST-free bills this morning, as part of B.C.'s switch back to the Provincial Sales Tax (PST). After more than two years of paying a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) many are happy to see the former GST and PST tax structure back in action. 

The day was off to a slow start, but stylists at First Choice Hair Cutters in Capri Mall feel they're benefiting from the switch already.

“We got better tips – no question! That was the first thing we noticed,” says salon manager Zsoka Komar.  Hair salons (along with restaurants, fitness centres and bicycle shops) are one of the services now exempt from the seven per cent PST.  Komar says time will tell how clients respond to the change, but her stylists are optimistic they'll be seeing the PST in the form of a tip.

Jim Beaudry, a vendor in Capri Centre Mall, says he's glad to see the HST gone.

“Today my cup of coffee cost 18 cents less than it did yesterday, and I always put my change in the charity bins – so now they're getting more everyday.”

Over on Bernard Avenue, Bread & Co. manager Laura Powell expects her customers will be happy to see the change on their bills.

"It's going to be easier on the pocket book for everybody. I know I'm going to be happy as a customer."

For Powell, who admits to dining out often herself, the HST was like “a headache that never went away.”

Not everyone agrees. Kamel Abougoush, owner of the Grateful Fed cafe on Bernard Avenue says, “I wish HST would have stayed –  it's simple – it's one calculation.”

Abougoush doesn't expect to see any real impact on his clientele, “people go out because they're going out, they go for the music, the atmosphere.”

“We live with taxes, it's just like breathing, you gotta pay taxes.” But he says making the switch was easy enough for his restaurant.

“It was painless for us, other than a service call. We had to call our computer guy in, and two minutes later he switched us from HST to PST.”

Those with older cash registers might take a bit longer to make the transition. On Sunday, business minister Naomi Yamamoto said 25,000 businesses had not yet registered with the new system.

Staff member Lara Rode, at Bernard St. Bakery, says their shop is still making the transition. “I know our front till changed, but I don't think our cafe till has changed yet. It's still 12% back here.”

Luckily the pressure's not too bad yet. Rode says, "it's been pretty quiet, it's still Easter and so I think most people think we're closed!”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at jwhittet@infotelnews.ca or call (250)718-0428.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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