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Mike Clermont owns Russ Hayes' Bike Shop and is reluctantly voting in favour of keeping the HST in British Columbia's referendum.


Mike Clermont bought the bicycle retailer Russ Hay's in 1974. On July 1, 2010, most of his stock - bikes, parts and many accessories - jumped in price because of the HST. He hasn't laid off staff, but he has hired fewer seasonal workers.

"There is no doubt it has a psychological impact because of all the publicity that was out there. Last year in June, prior to the tax coming in July 1, we had the biggest June we'd ever had. We marketed that well - we made buyers aware of it. After it came in, we saw our sales decline over the previous year - 10 to 15 per cent in each month - because it added to the cost of buying a bike, of buying parts.

"But after all that, the June we just had, we were very close to hitting last year's June, and the reason for that, we got off our seat and created a sale that brought people in, we worked with [bike maker]Norco and the discounts were fairly substantial and we had a $3,000 budget for advertising. We had unbelievable results, but we, along with our suppliers, created that.

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"It's easier for me to have the one tax, from an administrative point of view.

"But if we got the exemption back, the nuisance of doing the two tax returns again would be worth it, but I haven't heard anyone in government saying if the exemption would come back the same way.

"If we go back to the two taxes, we're still committed to the HST for how long, 18 to 24 months? That's a long time. As we got close to the changeover, I think it would have an impact on sales. But when you look out two years, I don't think it'll be too much of a difference.

"I'm voting to maintain the HST, but I would vote the other way if they were going to put the exemption back. But we can't get that commitment. That's the problem I have with it."

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About the Author
B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More

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