Springdale Business Owner Responds to Chinese Tariffs, Selling Brewery

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — Washington put tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday and Beijing immediately responded with penalties of an equal scale.

The cost of the new tariffs can be found in over 1,000 individual products and the effects can already be felt in Northwest Arkansas.

One local business owner is selling his business.

“This is a surprise. A year ago nobody would have predicted this,” said Steve Rehbock.

Rehbock opened Saddlebock Brewery six years ago, but he says his decision to sell the business came easy — after these latest tariffs were imposed. Saddlebock will continue to operate as normal from its current location. Any change in ownership carries a stipulation that the brewery operations are not moved. 

“This is a high volume low margin industry and if we have to pay a few cents more a can that’s our profit right there,” Rehbock said.

Rehbock says steel is an important cost factor because all equipment he uses to make the beer is stainless steel, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of it. On top of that, the bottles are aluminum.

“It really ultimately hits us because we are competing with international brands,” Rehbock said.

The business will officially be on the market next week. If he were to keep the business, Rehbock says the prices would definitely go up.

“We can’t just roll costs away, we have to pay them and where does the money go to pay those? We have to increase our expenses, our prices to the consumer, and it’s probably going to make the demand for the product go down,” Rehbock said.

It’s potentially a big set back for small business owners just like him.

“It’s just going to be more expensive to get into the craft brewery so it will probably slow the growth of the industry.”

Rehbock says he will be focusing his efforts on building his restaurant and a new wedding event center across the street from Saddlebock Brewery.

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