Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Local Businesses Adjust to Slowing Economy


A tiny home being built at
K&K Construction in Butler
Excruciating fuel prices and the ever increasing cost of goods (which go hand in hand) are beginning to make life a bit painful around Bates county and local businesses are working to make the best of it in whatever ways possible. Mid America Live News spoke with several shop owners to find out exactly how they are dealing with the impact and what steps are being taken to offset the difference.

K&K Construction located just off the Butler square, makers of utility sheds and tiny homes indicate while business is pretty good, it’s a bit astounding how the price of wood has skyrocketed. “Wood is up 300 percent over the last few years” we were told “and 40 percent just over the last year” which makes a simple storage shed a quite an investment. The company is in the process of building their first ‘tiny home’, complete with all the indemnities of a full size house that will come with a price tag of around $42,000 thanks mostly to the cost of lumber to build it. It was noted however, that this is the time to buy any current inventory as it was constructed before the last major price increase.

The same sentiments were expressed by Don LeNeve, owner of LeNeve’s TV and Appliance on the west side of the square. “If you’re gonna buy, if you’re even thinking about buying in the next 6 months or so,  we can get you that new stove, freezer or refrigerator at the previous lower price, as everything went up around the first of the year”. He went on to say LeNeve’s made a large purchase of inventory before the increase of close to 20% and this may be the last chance to get the lower prices for the foreseeable future, if ever. 

He, like many of us have to wonder if there’s any relief in sight. “Who really knows” says Trish Newkirk, President of Right Choice Trucking of Butler. “Of course the biggest issue is the price of diesel fuel” she said “Unfortunately, we add a fuel charges to the price of a load which at the end of the day is ultimately passed to the end consumer.” And the effect of fuel cost is only at the forefront “I’m seeing other problems too. Some transportation brokers are going out of business.  Not enough margins to keep the doors open. The same can be said for a lot of independent truckers, too” she added “And there’s more bad news coming. We’ve been informed tire prices are going up 19% in April”. 

While Newkirk says her business is ‘rolling right along’, she’s keeping a watchful eye to the future “The nationwide average for diesel is $4.85 today, up from $4.05 just a month ago and more increases are likely in coming weeks.”

Tony Johnson, owner of Blue Sky Auto Plaza in Butler says there has been an increase in those asking for gas savers too “But strangely, we’re not seeing a rush to trade in trucks and large SUV’s just yet” he said “Maybe people are going to try to ride it out until gas prices come back down sometime in the future” which is something we can all be optimistic about however it’s bound to get worse before it gets better- we’ll need to factor in the usual ‘Summertime increase’ that will follow in the coming months.

The eight or so local business owners we spoke with most all agreed that it’s going to take a literal miracle for things to begin to turn around, if that’s even possible at this stage. In the meantime, the common theme seems to be to make as many small cuts as possible and still maintain business-as-usual.

As inflation reached a 40 year high in February and consumer prices jumped 7.9% from a year ago, President Biden noted again last week that the war in Ukraine will further increase fuel prices, while he and others in his administration are openly pushing electric cars and renewable energy as an alternative. 

There may be a diamond in the rough here... as gas goes up, it certainly may hinder a ‘drive to the city’ which in turn could give a boost to our local businesses that certainly could use our help in these times. 

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