‘There will be price increases’: Overland Park business owner discusses local impact of China tariffs

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – If you buy diapers or clothes, or shoes, or televisions, those are about to cost a bit more. On Sunday, those items, along with about $112 billion in other items, went up in price.

There is a steady line of customers waiting to check out. At the registers, the beeps keep pace with the line. For Seth Freiden, it’s the sound of business.

“Everyone’s aware of what’s going on,” said the CEO and primary owner of U.S Toy. “It’s out there, and everyone knows about these China tariffs.

But the numbers on the register are about to be a little higher. Much of U.S. Toy’s offerings come from China.

“They need to brace themselves,” said Freiden of his customers. “There will be price increases.”

That means the items on the floor in Overland Park will soon cost more.

“I know Trump is out there saying there will be no price increases,” said Freiden. “There will be price increases. When that happens, there has to be. There’s no way around it. If you want companies to stick around and be profitable, they have to pass on the price increase.”

It’s not just on trinkets and party supplies. The 15% U.S. taxes apply to about $112 billion of Chinese imports. After Sunday’s tariff hike, 87% of textiles the U.S. buys from China and 52% of shoes will have import taxes.

Right now, at U.S Toy, those tariffs raise the cost a couple of cents on a few paper products. Freiden picked up a packed of small spiral-bound notebooks. “These will have a price increase of 10%.” Currently, the cost is $2.29. An increase of 10% would raise the price to $2.31.

It won’t happen right away – Freiden said he has a warehouse in Grandview stocked with inventory. But he also orders items roughly six months in advance. Everything he ordered for Christmas was ordered before the tariffs were discussed, and implemented.

However, come Christmastime another round of tariffs will go into effect. This one will impact everything he sells, said Freiden. So expect everything on the floor to go up in price. But don’t blame it on Seth Freiden.

“Everyone has to deal with it,” explained Freiden, “whether it’s us or Apple or Home Depot, or any retailer, they all have to deal with it.”

Jesse Rocha just purchased about $100 in carnival prizes – vampire teeth and glow necklaces. He’s retired now, so he said he has all he needs; in fact, he and his wife are trying to downsize.

Rocha thinks about the younger generation. “I think about my kids and grandkids,” he said, “and what they’re going to have to spend in the future.” Rocha worries the prices of things rarely go down. And his grandkids grow so fast, they’re constantly in need of new clothing and shoes.

The cost of doing business worries Freiden too. While the increased cost of a new notebook is small, it adds up. So does the cost of a $40 Lego set. Freiden thinks he won’t know the true impact of the tariffs until a customer walks up to the register – and possibly walks away.



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