Yarn and Fabric Stay on Trump’s Tariff List Despite Crafters’ Pleas

(Bloomberg) -- Joann, the crafting and arts supplies chain, took the rare step last month of recruiting its millions of customers to help thwart President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

That didn’t work out so well.

The closely held retailer highlighted 30 categories of products with proposed tariffs -- everything from cookie cutters to yarn and fabric -- that it wanted to be spared. But only two were left off the finalized list released on Monday. The 10 percent duties will go into effect on Sept. 24 and will increase to 25 percent next year.

The company, which dropped Fabrics from its name earlier this year, tried to make the case that many small businesses shop at its stores for supplies to make locally produced goods, leading it to dub Trump’s tariffs a “made-in-America tax.” Chief Executive Officer Jill Soltau even testified before the administration on the duties.

“Our customers, many of whom are nonprofit organizations and small businesses that operate on tight budgets, could not tolerate the increased pricing resulting from the tariff costs,” Soltau said during a hearing on Aug. 23.

The retailer, with 870 locations across 49 states, generates 50 percent of its sales from fabric and sources from China because no U.S. manufacturer can meet its quality or volume needs, Soltau said during the hearing. A variety of fabrics, including knit and woven, will be receiving tariffs. One of the few reprieves for Joann was the removal of fleece fabric.

In a statement released Tuesday, the company thanked the administration for “removing some codes that would have negatively impacted American makers and small businesses.”

Nonetheless, “several codes still remain on the list, which will hurt American crafters, business owners and charities,” Joann said in an email. “We hope the administration will reconsider including these as negotiations go forward.”

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