When shoppers come into Stephenson’s — a fashion-oriented shop supplying Elkhart, Ind., with high fashion, designer wedding gowns and prom dresses since 1931 — they might not realize how much a local store in a small city can be affected by global politics.
But Representative Jackie Walorski, the daughter of an appliance store owner, knows. And that’s why the three-term Republican member of Congress vowed her support for small businesses — and opposition to laws and regulations that make it difficult for them to grow — during a visit to the store last week.
“Buying local and shopping in small businesses — especially those that are family owned — is so important in this economy,” Walorski said. “That’s one of my priorities in Congress and always has been.”
“Just rolling off the regulations on small companies and allowing them to thrive, cutting their taxes, getting fairness in trade … I’m just grateful to play a small part in that,” she said.
“Buying local and shopping in small businesses — especially those that are family owned — is so important in this economy."Rep. Jackie Walorski
Walorski was on hand Wednesday to receive NRF’s Hero of Main Street award in recognition of her support of policies and initiatives important to the retail industry.
Owner Danny Reynolds presented the award “on behalf of all of us who are trying to support and survive in small-town Indiana” and praised her for being “all over that place” in Washington.
The visit came just one day after Walorski led close to 170 members of the House in sending a letter that called on the Trump administration to allow U.S. companies to seek relief from tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China that took effect in September. While previous rounds of tariffs on Chinese goods provided for exclusions for products that could not be sourced elsewhere, the letter called the absence of an exclusion process in the new round “a glaring omission.”
The growing trade war with China has small business owners across the country concerned, both because of the higher cost of the merchandise they sell and because of the impact on the overall economy.
“Tariffs are a huge issue in Indiana and Washington, and you’re leading the charge on getting exclusions,” Indiana Retail Council President Grant Monahan said. Monahan called exclusions “very important to retail.”
“I absolutely believe that we will be able to get the exclusion process,” Walorski said. “This is so important to our district and small businesses.”
Walorski has also supported tax cuts for small businesses, voting last year for tax reform that lowered rates for incorporated businesses and created a new 20 percent deduction for small business “pass throughs.”
While last week’s visit was a special occasion, it was far from the first time Walorski had been to the store.
“I shop here,” said Walorski, who buys many of the outfits she wears on the floor of the House of Representatives at Stephenson’s. “I love Stephenson’s.”
Watch a clip from the visit below:
Hear more small business owners react to the imposing of tariffs. Watch the video series.