NPR from Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

How The Trade War Is Hitting B-N's Small Businesses

Mary Cullen
Kristin Rae started her first ecommerce business in 2013. The Illinois State University alumna now owns and operates Inspire Travel Luggage out of her home in Normal.

A Bloomington-Normal small business owner claims the Trump administration isn’t telling the truth about tariffs.

Kristin Rae owns an ecommerce business called Inspire Travel Luggage. She said the government has structured the ongoing trade war in a way that punishes America’s small businesses.

“Our president is going out and saying that China is paying these tariffs like we are punishing China, and that is not true. It is an American importer that is paying that tax bill," she said.

Rae said for every $45,000 in goods she imports, there is an added $13,000 tariff that she must pay.

“If you’re trying to borrow money and $45,000 does it for you, you’re going to have to come up with another $13,000 just to get it here across the border. That’s your tariff bill. That’s your tax bill. And that’s pretty significant.”

As a small business, Rae said she has no option but to add that tariff on top of her retail price. That’s a problem because that means potentially pricing her product out of some consumers’ budgets.

“That’s tough for every small producer because you want to stay competitive.”

Rae said she wanted to be an American-made brand, but manufacturers weren’t willing to work with a small company, so she had no option but to look abroad.

“What the problem is is that people like me, smaller importers and brands, are suffering because of it. Because the truth is not being told.”

Rae said the trade war has put small businesses in a dark place. The best way to help, she said, is to support the small brands you love.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.

Related Content