Local merchants are biting the bullet on higher energy costs

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

    WEST MILFORD — Like all of us, area retailers are affected by rising prices of oil and gasoline. As their suppliers raise the price of goods to them, each individual businessman or woman is faced with the decision of whether or not to pass along the increase to their customers. While the impact of oil prices varies according to the type of business, none of the area retailers we contacted has increased their prices based on the higher costs passed on to them by their suppliers. That’s not to say that they haven’t thought about it, but as Jim Worth of Pequannock Feed and Pet Supply stated, “we’re hoping it will go down so that we don’t have to increase our prices to our customers. Many of my suppliers are adding a fuel surcharge to each delivery, but we haven’t increased our prices at all.” As to any possible benefit to higher gasoline prices, Jim believes there may be a slight increase in weekend sales at his store as local people are unwilling to travel long distances to shop. JoAnne Woods of Ace Hardware on Marshall Hill Road had the same opinion. Although some of their oil-based stock, such as paint, paint thinners and cleaning solvents are definitely more expensive; she also feels that customers are staying close to home to make their purchases. “It definitely goes both ways, no one wants to waste gas,” she pointed out. Although Aquatech Pool Chemicals & Equipment is winding down as winter approaches, store manager Jean Paul doesn’t see any positives related to the rise in oil prices. She explained that many of their distributors are either “adding a surcharge to each delivery, or avoiding making any small deliveries to small stores such as ours.” I Love Lily’s Florist in Newfoundland is also feeling the effects of the higher oil prices. Owner Tanya Shenkin is affected both as a commuter and as a florist. “ I drive a large SUV, so my commute has become very expensive. When I opened the shop, gas was $1.90 a gallon. Gas prices also are impacting our margins because we offer free delivery.” Because her business is so new, she does not know if there has been any positive impact based on local residents staying local. Since many flowers are grown overseas and flown in to the U.S., distributors have passed on their increased costs to retail florists such as I Love Lily’s. “But, we’re still not passing on any of these costs to our customers,” she added. Janet Kern of the Party Store in the Bearfort Shopping Village sounded a somewhat more positive note on the subject. As she explained, “I honestly think that the price of gas may be helping us as we have heard many customers saying ‘I’m glad you’re here so that I don’t have to drive all the way to Party City.’ We’ve heard that several times.”