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Opinion | Una Hajdari

The hidden costs on a furniture store

(WavebreakMediaMicro - stock.adob)

Bob Saquet prides himself in selling “fine American made” furniture. The Facebook page of the Middleborough-based Eggers Furniture says they are the “oldest retail furniture store” in the United States. Even though his stock is locally made, he recently heard that the China tariffs were going to affect his store because some of the textiles and hardware elements used in the making of the furniture are imported.

“I’m hearing from my sources that our American-made products utilize a fair amount of imported component parts,” says Saquet. “We’re starting to get the notices from our suppliers that there are temporary price increases, 2-3 percent, nothing significant, but these things are rolling in.

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“Being an independent businessman, I can’t really cut it in building maintenance, we can’t cut in our energy costs, because we gotta keep the store warm for our customers; we can’t cut back on our advertising cost because that’s what brings people in the door, so I just cut back on what I pay myself,” he explains.

While he obviously supports US-based production — that’s the core of his business — Saquet says that certain products stopped being produced in the country a long time ago. The tariffs won’t bring them back overnight. “What happened in the furniture industry ever since 2008 is that a lot of these factories have closed down and production has moved offshore. It’s very easy to close a factory — you just print up a thousand pink slips and hand them out and say sayonara and turn off the lights. To start a factory is a long, drawn-out process.”

Saquet is worried that people are not truly aware of the implications of the tariffs because they underestimate the extent to which the economy itself has to be restructured in order to “bring these jobs back home.”

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“This is the sad part of the whole thing,” he says. “Some people think production can be turned on like you turn on water. Most of the people I’ve spoken to pretty much take the attitude we’ve got to pretty much eat up the increase or hope for the best and do what we can. Hope that the storm ends as soon as possible.”