City encourages people to shop local for holidays
According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Nebraska lost an estimated $118 million dollars from uncollected taxes in 2012. This is because online-only retailers aren't required to pay local taxes.
Gary Novotny has owned his men's boutique in Lincoln for 24 years. He sells suits, sports jackets and ties. He said the internet is his biggest obstacle.
"[You] can't touch and feel the fabric like you can when you come into the store. That's the highlight that makes our business so great," said Gary Novotny, owner of Gary Michaels Clothiers.
Novotny's store is one of more than 1,000 small businesses in Lincoln and said it would be in local residents' best interest to shop in store instead of online.
"We're the ones who are basically donating the majority to charity, to schools, and the sales tax revenue is very important because you have to have the sales tax to do the infrastructure," he said.
Tuesday, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler held a press conference to encourage people to shop locally this holiday season.
"Lincoln has never had such a wide variety of shopping options by shopping local we continue to see our choices grow along with our population," he said.
A bill is currently going through the legislature (LB44) that would, if passed, require online retailers who sell more than $100,000 a year or have more than 200 transactions to pay local taxes.
Novotny's store has a website but he said most of his customers just use it for information and come into the store.
"The things about it that people want in a small business is the retail experience, you can't get that on the computer through the Internet," he said.
There are several events going on in Lincoln this week to celebrate small businesses. On Thursday is Shop the Blocks, which is being put on by the Downtown Lincoln Association, it goes from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday is Small Business Saturday where local businesses offer discounts and refreshments.