I have imported from Europe both professionally and personally.
Some countries have trade agreements with the US where imports have no duties.
Really it's fairly simple and straightforward. Be sure you have a good forwarder and a good customs broker--have that lined up in advance. You really can't import by yourself unless you are a customs broker or are importing something so small it doesn't need formal clearance.
If you want more control of things, have your forwarder coordinate the entire shipment instead of the company in Europe.
Cost depends on size/weight, mode of transport and whether or not the items are hazardous so it's really hard to give you a ballpark based on what you've posted. On average, freight costs will be roughly around 5% of the goods' value, but if you have a small sample shipment freight costs can be 100%+ of the goods' value, kwim?
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