Retailer Joann Calls on Crafters to Oppose Trump's Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- Doing it yourself won’t save your wallet from President Trump’s tariffs.

Joann, the crafting and arts supplies store that dropped Fabrics from its name earlier this year, warned shoppers that new proposed levies on imported products from China will hit their bottom lines -- even though they’re finishing their projects at home. This marks one of the first times a major retail or consumer brand has directly asked its customers to oppose the president’s trade policies.

“Your ability to continue creating at an affordable cost is in jeopardy,” Chief Executive Officer Jill Soltau said in an email to customers on Tuesday. “Proposed tariffs on many of the items we sell will inadvertently place a tax on the made-in-America products you make, which will hurt millions of individual crafters along with charitable organizations and small businesses.”

Soltau then asked shoppers to click a web link to sign a petition or send an emailed letter to their elected representatives. That link lists products that would be affected by tariffs including cookie cutters, candle holders and yarn.

The closely held crafting chain operates more than 865 stores across 49 states, according to its website. The U.S. crafting industry accounted for $44 billion in economic activity in 2016 alone, Joann said in the suggested text to lawmakers, citing an industry report.

Soltau will get to make her case directly to the administration on Thursday when she testifies during six days of hearings on the proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that could go into effect in about a month.

“We’ve seen an overwhelming and passionate response from customers across the nation,” Joann spokeswoman Amanda Hayes said in an emailed statement. “The goal of the latest round of tariffs is laudable, but including specific codes such as fleece and yarn would unintentionally create a ‘Made in America’ tax that would threaten jobs, restrict creative learning and hurt our customers’ ability to make and support to those in need.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.