Edmonton business owners prepare for tariffs on American products

Michael Kalmanovitch, the owner of Earth’s General Store on Whyte Avenue, said the tariffs will likely translate into higher prices for many of the packaged vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items in his store.

Retaliatory tariffs came into effect on July 1

'We're not going to buy that'

4 years ago
Duration 0:55
Edmontonians brace for tariffs on American products.

For an extra $1.75, customers at Edmonton's Highlevel Diner can spread homemade caramel bourbon sauce on the restaurant's popular cinnamon bun.

Thanks to new federal tariffs on imported American goods, that sauce is about to get more expensive to produce for diner owner Kim Franklin.

"I ordered a whack of bourbon today, hoping to get it at the price before the tariff," Franklin told CBC News on Monday.

She said staff have joked about disregarding the recipe and using rye whisky instead.

Bourbon, a type of whiskey, is one of many American goods that — as of July 1 — has a retaliatory tariff. 

The tariffs are Canada's response to the United States' decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Other affected goods include roasted coffee, chocolate bars, strawberry jam, ketchup, soya sauce, orange juice, licorice, candy, maple syrup, yogurt, cucumbers, toilet paper, sleeping bags and ballpoint pens.

Experts say the list targets industries in swing states and districts of Republican members of Congress. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, represents Kentucky, which is famous for its bourbon whiskey.

Michael Kalmanovitch, who owns Earth's General Store on Whyte Avenue, said the tariffs will likely translate into higher prices for many of the packaged vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items in his store.

He said he's already received a list of hundreds of affected products from one supplier and expects it will take staff a full day to add new labels to goods in the store.

"All those products are going to be hit with a 10 per cent increase and we will pass that on to the consumer," he said Monday.

Albert D'Amore, who owns D'Amore's Mercato on 99th Street, said he's less worried about tariffs on food products but concerned about his store's take-out containers that contain aluminum. His store relies on containers from American suppliers, but D'Amore said he's now looking elsewhere for other options.

"It's going to affect us," he said. "I'm getting updates on that, pretty much weekly."

Not everyone is concerned about the tariffs.

Steve Richmond, who owns Vines-Riverbend Wine Merchants, said he doubts the tariffs will affect his bottom line. He said bourbon sales have been booming in recent years, but they still make up a small fraction of the store's total sales.

Several shoppers outside the Bryan and Allison's No Frills store in Queen Alexandra on Monday said they expected the tariffs would influence their purchases in the coming weeks.

Gialdo Bonilla said he expects price increases of American products will likely have an impact on his wallet. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

"I was planning to buy a car and if they are now imposing tariffs on American-manufactured cars, that will affect me," said Haranjan Singh.

"The impact will be felt for sure," said Gialdo Bonilla.

"I think, over time, I'd probably have to change my spending habits."

Some locally made products could also see sales boost as American products become pricier.

Tomato ketchup, pictured here on the shelves at Bryan and Allison's No Frills in Edmonton, is on the list of American imports receiving tariffs. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

The Highlevel Diner relies on American bourbon for its sweet sauce, but it makes ketchup in house and sells it by the bottle.

"We'd certainly be happy to sell more ketchup," Franklin said.


Madeleine Cummings is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She covers local news for CBC Edmonton's web, radio and TV platforms. You can reach her at madeleine.cummings@cbc.ca.