Port slowdown already affecting small businesses

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — In the midst of the Port of Portland’s announcement that it will close for the next four days, local business owners told KOIN 6 News the port strike is already affecting them.

“Some of the imports are being held up at the port because of the strike,” Sheridan Fruit Company wine buyer Lori Torchia said. “So the containers are not able to get to the distributors and therefore we can’t get them here in the store like we used to.”

Torchia said it has been a problem since October, when ports across the west coast started slowing down. The business, which imports wines from around the world, is having difficulty stocking all of its usual reds and whites.

On Thursday, all west coast ports will officially close for four days. Adding to the slowdown — popular shipping company Hanjin announced Tuesday it will no longer deliver to the Port of Portland.

David Kahl, owner of Ergo Depot, moved his company’s distribution center from Louisiana to Portland last summer.

“We sell a lot of adjustable height desks, that’s really the cornerstone of what we do,” Kahl told KOIN 6 News.

But since Hanjin’s announcement, Kahl said his company has reconsidered their move.

“As much as we love Portland and we want to have jobs here, we have to make sure we are earning the amount of income that is giving us the ability of new product and stay on the forefront of what we are doing,” Kahl said.

Now that Hanjin is moving to Seattle, Kahl said his costs will go up 25%.

“These are our lives, and it’s affecting not just Nike and Columbia Sportswear and big companies,” Kahl said. “It’s affecting small businesses like ours who distribute around the country and really rely on the port.”

Small business owners told KOIN 6 News they hope elected officials will step in to bring the labor dispute to an end and get Hanjin to stay in Portland.

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