Local News

Fuel prices forcing businesses to change operations

Business owners say they are having to turn away customers because it's no longer profitable for them to do business.

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With the state average for regular unleaded gas edging toward $4 a gallon, small-business owners say they are having to change the way they operate.

"We have had to raise our delivery prices," said The Blossom Shop's Julie Berry, who has raised the cost of delivering flowers by $2 in the past six months.

And, she says, the increase might not stop there. The flower shop has also stopped delivering to certain areas of the Triangle because sending someone there and back there is no longer worth the cost.

"You hate turning down the business, but you're not going to make money on it," Berry said. "You know, obviously, you have to turn it down."

Shannon Hathaway, who owns the Cary-based landscape company Green Heron Landscaping Services, says she has also had to turn down customers living more than an hour's drive away.

"We've had to tell people that they're better off hiring a local landscape contractor who doesn't have to charge the prices for the distances we'd travel," she said.

Green Heron's hauling truck uses $125 of diesel fuel every three days. That's forced the company to increase its prices 20 percent.

Hathaway, who drives approximately 100 miles a day to consult with customers, has also traded her conventional SUV for a hybrid SUV to double her miles per gallon. She has also combined orders for neighboring areas to make deliveries more efficient.

"That's made a huge difference," she said.

Both business owners also say fuel is also increasing the cost of their supplies because anything shipped to them has a fuel surcharge.

"Most small businesses – they have to really look at what they're doing," Berry said.