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Long-term benefit important for business, outfitter says

Gayle Robinson, owner of Robinsons Outdoor Store in Victoria.

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Gayle Robinson is the third-generation owner of Robinson's Outfitters, one of Victoria's oldest retailers. The introduction of the HST didn't change the price of her tents, hiking boots and fishing rods. Overhead costs climbed and the tax credits are slow to arrive. But her business has survived recessions and a world war - these days her biggest challenge is new competition on the block.

"On the everyday issue of what we charge, there is no issue to the business. There is an intangible - are people cutting back because they are spending more elsewhere? - I can't measure that.

"The general public was leery, but now they have adjusted. Same with us on the overhead. The two things that kill business are cash flow and overhead, but we have survived for 82 years because we own the building. If we didn't, we would have been a casualty like so many others.

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"Sales are down a bit from last year but not significantly. Generally, we are holding. I've now got Atmosphere and MEC - a 10,000 square-foot big-box store on either side of me. I've got an economy that's tougher, but I also know what to do as a retailer to be successful. It's customer relationships. A customer might come in planning to spend $100 and end up spending $1,000 because we did our job in giving them incredible service.

"I would say we are better to stay with the HST. Obviously, it's a benefit if it goes down to 10 per cent over three years. It concerns me if we go back to the GST and PST. If we have to pay all the money back we were given as a bonus, how big an impact will that have on the economy?

"Stability is really important for business. Now that we are in on this, we should stay on it.

"I'm voting to keep the HST. It's not without its ups and downs, but it's the best in the long term. Gordon Campbell completely blew it when he presented it. He created so much animosity over duping the citizens - saying he wasn't going to do the HST, then dropping it in - that it's not even about the tax anymore, but the way it was done."

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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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