Hill Businesses Adopt ‘Wait and See’ Stance on Tariffs


Chef Ben Jackson of  the Celebrated “Drifter’s Wife” Preparing for  Dinner  Tonight.

Ryan Pierrier, of Strata, Shows Some of the Knives Purchased from Overseas.  Ryan told this Blogger that Strata May be Relocating From This  Space Because it Has Outgrown it.  The New House of Cheese Space May be Available for Strata in the Future.

Strata’s  Stressed Owner, Evan Atwell, Sharpens a Knife for One of His Customers Recently.  Atwell Said He’s So  Busy That he Hardly Knows Who His Wife is Anymore,  Joking!

Will Sizzle,  co-owner of the Popular Cheese Shop of Portland,  Checks his Wine Supply Recently.

Small business owners on Washington Avenue on the Hill are bracing for tariffs that are expected to be imposed on products that are the main stay of their businesses – these 100% tariffs that would double prices, could destroy businesses based on revenues from food, wine, knives, cheese and other dairy related products – all of which are cash cows on Munjoy Hill.

” We know of no set date for when tariffs go into effect,” said Will Sizzle, co-owner of the Cheese Shop of Portland yesterday afternoon, who has been tracking the situation closely. ‘It could happen on Tuesday or any day thereafter,” Sizzle said.  “We just don’t know.”   Sizzle and his wife, co-owner Mary, stand to be hurt significantly,  because the major targets of the Trump administration in the Airbus vs. Boeing flap happen to be small businesses in whom the president has no interest

Dillon Morris, wine manager at Mane & Loire, 59 Washington Avenue, the former J. J. Nissen Building, said this afternoon:  “This is an arbitrary decision supported by Trump.”  From Blue Hill he said:  “This feels very short-sighted and no consideration has been given for long-term impacts on small businesses.”  Morris said he has contacted local Congressional offices and that “staff members seem to be of a similar mind.”  About 90% of Maine & Loire’s wine comes from European countries.

The tariffs likely to be imposed on specific imported goods from the EU stem from an on-going dispute over subsidies in the aircraft industry.

Chef Ben Jackson at Drifter’s Wife, said this afternoon that his supply of olive oil could be affected. Recently, he ordered 40 gallons of olive oil from Gustiano, New York, a supplier of Italian products such as olives, pastas and pickles.  That supply could last until March, but it is not a big supply in the busier summer.  He may have to search for a new source of the high-end olive oil when this supply runs dry.  (See above left photo of Chef Jackson).

“We think that if these tariffs go into effect, this will negatively affect small businesses, especially in Maine, where we have a lot of craft industries,” said Ryan Perrier, spokesperson for Strata. Strata, a knife sales and sharpening business, occupies one of the so-called Black Box Rentals on Washington Avenue. This small business stands to be hurt by the Trump administration tariffs.  The list of imported products likely to have tariffs imposed on them is very long and detailed.

“If there are closures on Washington Avenue, it could affect my business.  Not as many people will come here,” said Chris Wheaton, owner of North Optical, an innovative eye glass frame company, located in one of the retail units housed in old shipping containers procured by Jed Harris, the former owner and redeveloper of the nearby J. J. Nissan Building.  Wheaton is featured in the current trade publication “Invision”.  The two page article focuses on his branding skills as shown in business cards, totess, stickers, posters and more.

The deadline for public comment on these proposed tariffs is Monday, January 31, 2020, but retailers that mhn has spoken to recently are convinced that Trump has no interest in their comments.”

For more background information on the black box rentals, please view two posts here:  March 18, 2018 and August 13, 2018.