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Amherst, N.S., store owner says high taxes have killed his business


AMHERST, N.S. - When Tony Hubert bought his convenience store last year, he liked the thought of being his own boss.
However, seven months later he's closing the doors of the 50-year-old store in Amherst because he says he can't compete with cheaper cigarettes and milk a few kilometres away in New Brunswick.
"I never really had a chance," said Hubert, who was to close his store for the final time Thursday night.
"Just two weeks before I bought the business, the government here raised the tax on tobacco and I lost most of my sales to New Brunswick."
Hubert said sales at the store are down by $65,000 over the seven months than over the same period last year. The difference between January 2010 and the same month last year was $14,500.
"I just got to the point that I can't make enough money to pay the bills so I'm getting out before anyone gets hurt," he said. "This way my suppliers get paid and my staff gets paid.
"The only thing I will have to worry about is paying my mortgage. Will I be able to do that? Probably not."
Hubert showed a sales receipt from a gas bar in nearby Sackville, N.B., to back up his case. On Wednesday, he purchased a package of cigarettes for $6.02 before taxes and a two-litre carton of milk for $3.35. In Nova Scotia, the cost is $8.75 for that same package of cigarettes and $4.25 for the milk.
He's also angry that one of the large tobacco giants gave large retailers a break on cigarettes that wasn't made available to the smaller independent store owners.
"The fact of the matter is I haven't made a dime since I've been here. I've taken two-and-a-half paycheques out of here in seven months and it has sucked up most of my savings," Hubert said. "I just don't see it working so I'm getting out."
The businessman can't hide his anger at government, saying it has overtaxed business to the point people can't compete. With the possibility of the government increasing the HST by two per cent to battle the deficit, Hubert feels it's time for Nova Scotians to say enough is enough.
"If they raise the HST we're screwed - there's no nice way to put it. You might as well put the closed sign up on Amherst," he said. "You don't see me going out and spending thousands on some custom-made desk. They made this mess. They should clean it up without causing hardship on Nova Scotians."

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