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Soaring Gas Prices Put the Squeeze on Small Businesses


As the owner of a limousine business for more than 40 years, James Andrus thought he’d seen it all when it came to the rise and fall of gas prices.

But this current spike in prices — which has seen gas rise nearly 14 cents nationally in the last week alone — is something Andrus, owner of Andrus Limousine in Milwaukee, Wis., has never experienced.

“This is the worst I have ever seen,” Andrus told BusinessNewsDaily. “Business has been anything but easy.”

While he has added a recent fuel surcharge to his rates, Andrus said with so many longtime customers, it was a very difficult decision to make.

“Generally, most people are understanding,” he said. “But, you don’t want to be putting people in a position where they start looking for a new vendor.”

Andrus is far from alone. Small business owners across the country are feeling the effects of the record-breaking surge in gas prices.

The national average for a gallon of gas, $3.51, is up 77 cents from a year ago, according to the Department of Energy.

Florist Lois Griffin said if gas prices continue rising at their current rate, she may be forced out of business altogether.

“This has had a severe impact,” said Griffin, who has owned Flynn’s Flowers in Phoenix, Ariz., for nine years. She said the high prices are pushing the business to the brink of diminishing returns.

It is not just her delivery costs that are rising with the price of gas. Griffin said it also is costing her more to receive shipments of items like vases and ribbons.

“It isn’t just any one thing,” she said.  “We are getting hit from every direction.”

Griffin said many other florists in the Phoenix area have already raised prices by as much 25 percent to cover the high cost of fuel.  She said she may have to follow suit, or risk losing her business.

“It is either that,” Griffin said, “or I might not be able to fight the battle at all, because it’s not even reasonable to be in business anymore.”

Paul Dreiske, owner of A-Dreiske Local Moving Inc. in northern Illinois, said the high cost of gas has hurt his business like it has many others.

In an effort to save fuel costs, he said he’s worked hard to make sure his business’ fleet of moving vans is operating at maximum efficiency .

“We have had to rethink where and how we send our trucks out,” Dreiske said. “All that is good, because it’s something that needs to be done.”

Small-business owners say changes like that one — or fuel surcharges — are about all that can be done right now.

“It is really hard to constantly be reacting to something this,” Andrus said. “We just have to suck it up, and hope for better days.”

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.