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Local Baltimore City grocery store lays off 80 employees and shuts down blaming city bottle tax

Supermarket owner says patrons stopped coming in

Santoni's Supermarket in Highlandtown Baltimore

Santoni’s Supermarket in Highlandtown Baltimore

Thanks to ReluctantBaltimoron blog for the picture

Santoni’s Supermarket in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood will shut its doors and lay off 80 employees, the owner citing the city’s bottle tax forced patrons to buy cheaper soda and other goods in Baltimore County.

“Since the beverage tax levy went into effect in July 2010, Santoni’s has realized total store sales loss in excess of $4 million or 18 percent,” Robert Santoni Jr. said in a news release. “But the beverage sales category has experienced sales decreases exceeding 28 percent during the same time period.

“They’re breaking our backs,” Santoni said. “They live in a fantasy world down at City Hall.”

Source: Baltimore Sun

The tax increase equates to a 150% increase in price passed on to consumers from the previous 2 cents a bottle tax.

The supermarket has been in business since the 1930’s, and the owner says Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake is to blame.

The mayor angrily fired back at Santoni, saying his business had other problems and that he can’t blame the bottle tax alone.

Santoni said that soda was a bottom line popular item many would buy at his store, and a sales booster.

What do you think? Is the city’s bottle tax really to blame, or is it a sign of a changing economy?

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