Cook County stores say soda tax costing them thousands of dollars in sales

Anger continues to bubble up over Cook County’s new tax on soda and sweetened beverages.

And now, a group of south suburban stores are banding together and promising political payback unless the tax is repealed.

Those merchants tell FOX 32 the soda tax is costing them thousands of dollars in sales.

"Because we are in Cook County people are just not stopping at our store,” one business owner said.

Four weeks after Cook County’s penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax took effect, south suburban store owners say it's having a devastating impact on soda sales.

"They have gone down 50 percent,” a business owner said.

About a dozen owners and managers of local groceries and convenience stores called on the county to repeal the tax during a rally organized by the "Can The Tax" coalition.

FOX 32: Do you think some stores are going to go out of business because of this?

"Absolutely. Absolutely they will. We already have been wondering if we're going to have to cut employees at our location,” said store manager Amanda Stevens.

But if the soda tax is hurting businesses in Cook County, well it's having the opposite effect on businesses on the other side of the border.

The manager of this store in Monee told FOX 32 they've increased their orders and can barely keep soda in stock.

Now, the Cook County merchants say they're trying to turn up the political heat on their commissioner, Deborah Sims, whose vote for the tax helped it pass by a single vote.

"I want her to admit that she was wrong. And repeal this tax because it's hurting us,” said Russell Calhoun of Dixmoor Meat Market.

Commissioner Sims told FOX 32 by phone she can take the political heat, and believes the health benefits of drinking less soda will save the county money in the long run.
"We're not gonna please everybody. This is a choice tax. People have the ability to make a decision on whether they want to drink soda or they don't,” Sims said.

The board may take up a resolution to repeal the tax when it next meets on September 13th.

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