“We’ll do it on a wing and a prayer.” Inflation hits Danville businesses with a cost boost. | Local business news
For Philly Cheese Steaks & Things co-owner Deborah Parks, the cost of sandwich ingredients has skyrocketed.
“We’re really upset that you have to raise your prices to keep ordering supplies,” Parks, who owns the Riverside Drive restaurant with her husband Donald, said last week. “For us, we’re doing it right now on a wing and a prayer.”
The cost of items like meat, cold cuts, cheese and items like lettuce, tomatoes, onions and green peppers have skyrocketed by 75%, she said. Wings are up from $89 a case to $149 a case and four blocks of cheese are up from $89 to $152, Deborah said.
They’ve had to increase menu item prices by about 15%, including charging 15 cents for each vegetable on a sandwich, Parks said.
“We used to not charge for veggies on a sandwich,” she said. “Now we’re doing it. It’s still not breaking even, but it’s just helping a little.”
Businesses across the city are feeling the pain of rising inflation that has been happening across the country for several months.
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The consumer price index for January, which measures the cost of dozens of basic consumer goods, rose 7.5% compared to the same month last year, the US Labor Department reported last month.
dr Gary Miller, a cardiologist and owner of Cardiology Consultants of Danville, said the cost of items for his practice, ranging from envelopes for mailing bills to glass thermometers to gloves and masks, has increased significantly.
“There’s not a lot that hasn’t gone up,” said Miller, who is also Danville’s vice mayor.
The price of gel, which is used for echocardiograms, has increased by 30% to 40%, he said, adding that the cost of billing sheets (40% to 50%), glass thermometer covers (50%) and Clorox have risen sharply be towels (50%).
Table paper that patients sit or lie on while they see a nurse or doctor is up 30% to 40%, Miller said.
“We have supplies coming in from overseas,” he said. “It’s hard to get them here and they’re getting more and more expensive.”
Higher sales help
For Rippe’s Apparel Furs Shoes lifestyle store on Main Street, wholesale prices are up 5% to 10% across the board, said general manager and buyer Sam Rippe.
However, sales have been robust since the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rippe said.
Inflation didn’t hurt Rippe’s, he said.
“It hasn’t caused us any major problems yet,” Rippe said. “We had a pretty good year last year when demand came back.”
Sales in 2021 were as strong as they were in 2019 before the pandemic hit, Rippe said.
“It’s the busiest thing we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rippe said.
Rippe’s father, Ben Rippe, said manufacturers are starting to raise the prices of products when they are made in places like Indonesia or other parts of Asia.
“They have to pay eight to ten times as much for the container [shipping]said Ben.
The Rippes buy as much as possible from North America, including Canada and Mexico, to cut costs, Ben said.
housing and more
On the real estate front, Shaenice Jones, head of real estate brokerage at Wilkins & Co., said rents in the city have risen, but not because of inflation.
“A lot of owners are increasing their rent,” Jones said. “They’re doing more repairs and upgrading their properties.”
It’s hard to say how inflation will affect home energy bills — as has Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, said Jason Gray, director of Danville Utilities.
“Energy prices are a national concern right now because of the problems in Ukraine and Russia,” Gray said. “I can’t predict the future. It’s something we need to monitor in the future. We’re coming out of the heating season and warmer weather is coming, so there won’t be as much demand for natural gas customers.”
A barrel of US crude rose above $100 on Thursday after Russia invaded Ukraine. Natural gas prices also rose, although operators say the pipelines are operating as usual, the Associated Press reported late last month.
Prices for both fell after US and European officials said sanctions against Russia would not disrupt energy supplies or payments through banks for oil and gas supplies, the AP reported.
Natural gas prices in the US are about 60% higher than a year ago, the AP reported.
The cost of natural gas affects electricity prices because a significant portion of electricity generation comes from natural gas, Gray said.
Many U.S. households are also grappling with high heating bills, spending 40% more on heating oil and natural gas than in the same period last year, the AP reported.
“We observe how actions in politics [arena] and issues in Europe how they will affect energy prices in the US,” Gray said. “It’s not just going to be Danville, it’s going to be the whole country and the whole world.”
Danville Utilities is offering discounts on HVAC replacements, new furnaces, and other items to take the pressure off customers.
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