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Footwear Business Hopes To Stomp Out Higher Outdoor Shoe Tariffs

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- Colorado is the place to be for outdoor enthusiasts so it’s no surprise that outdoor gear has a huge following among people who live in the Rocky Mountain Region.

But the price tag on popular waterproof trail, hiking, even fly fishing waders could rise by more than 40 percent.

The steep price hike stems from a recent decision by the Obama Administration. It’s called a “specialty shoe tariff” and it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013 unless Congress stops it.

The popular footwear is sold across Colorado at hundreds of retailers. Those retailers are worried that that higher prices will hurt sales and potentially impact jobs.

At Outdoor Divas in Boulder, shoe sales make up 20-30 percent of the business. Some of the hottest sellers are about to get a lot pricier.

“If the consumer wants this product, it’s going to be 38 percent more expensive,” said Outdoor Divas owner Kim Walker.

The decision on the international trade negotiations comes just 30 days before those products are expected to be shipped to retailers.

“We shouldn’t be in the middle of this fight,” said Outdoor Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer. “It’s a decision that doesn’t make any sense. It came out of nowhere. It changes the rules at the last second.”

He said the impact will be devastating particularly in Colorado, one of the leading states in the outdoor recreation business.

“We’re talking about hundreds of companies, thousands of jobs that will be impacted right here in Colorado,” said Hugelmeyer.

La Sportiva, a shoe company headquartered in Boulder, has already set prices for 2013. That the company will have to absorb the losses caused by the tariffs which has them worried about meeting the bottom line.

“Basically 18 to 20 of our products that this will affect,” said La Sportiva spokesman Jonathan Lantz. “What this is really going to affect is the number of people we can employ directly here in Colorado, in the United States, moving forward.”

“Hopefully we can put an end to it,” said Walker. “but the reality is we are going to be paying more. All of us.”

The Outdoor Industry Association is working with Colorado’s congressional delegation to keep a lower tariff in place over the objections of the Obama administration.

Time is running out. The higher tariff is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

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