EVERETT, Wash. — J. Matheson gift store in Everett is not what you typically picture when you think of a trade war. The bright, cheery store offers everything from jewelry and local art to gourmet cooking supplies.
Right now, it's now in danger of becoming collateral damage.
"I realized it wasn't just steel it was going to affect or soy beans. I realized it was going to affect us," said owner Judy Matheson, who has run her business for nearly three decades.
About 20 percent of what Matheson sells is imported from China. Recently, her vendors told her to prepare for cost increases of up to 28 percent.
She says she will absorb as much of the price increases as she can, but turning a profit is tough enough when you're competing with Walmart and Amazon.
"Your rent goes up, everything else goes up," Matheson said. "Right now I'm working seven days a week. It's hard keeping a business successful."
Countless products are being impacted by China's response to the $250 billion in tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump in July. At the Port of Everett, imports and exports are down 14 percent from last year. Statewide 40 percent of our jobs are tied to international trade. In Snohomish County alone, China buys some $18 billion in local goods every year.
Snohomish County Economic Alliance CEO Patrick Pierce believes both sides have too much to lose to wage a full trade war.
"The provinces, the cities over there, they're interested in the same thing we are," Pierce said. "They want to continue to have strong relationships. That's important for their local economies."
Meantime, Matheson is stockpiling as much as she can in her storeroom before prices go up.
She is also sending a letter to her loyal customers announcing likely price increases in the coming year.
"I have to be honest with them," she said. "They've been very good to me. I'll work as hard as I can to continue to serve my customers as long as they come in."