Gas problems costing small businesses - East Valley Tribune: Business

Gas problems costing small businesses

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Posted: Monday, August 18, 2003 10:20 pm | Updated: 1:28 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Time is money — and the gas problem is costing Chuck Bond both.

Bond, the owner of Baby Love Diaper Service in Mesa, said the increase in gas prices is adding $200 a month in expenses for his business.

He said he spent three hours of driving around and waiting Monday to fill up his personal vehicle and his van. Bond’s small business is among of hundreds in the East Valley that depend on a vehicle to make service calls and deliver goods. They can't take the bus or call a cab, so they must pay and wait.

"A business like mine depends on this (being able to deliver), and skipping a week isn't an option," Bond said.

The current crunch puts pressure on small businesses because it changes their cost structure, Scottsdale-based economist Elliott D. Pollack said. If it goes on long enough, the crunch may put pressure on consumers as well because businesses could pass along the costs, Pollack said.

"That's difficult to do if it's only temporary,” he said.

But the economic pain of the gas crunch is likely to be temporary as well, Pollack said.

For the time being, he said, the local economy will take hits in two main areas:

• Consumers are spending more on gas and thus less on other items.

• Consumers are likely to cut down on unnecessary trips, such as shopping for anything but the essentials.

But when supplies return to normal, consumers will quickly make up for lost time, Pollack said.

Bill Harrington, special relations manager for Nordstrom at Scottsdale Fashion Square, said the crisis didn't seem to be keeping anyone away from the store, and he hadn't seen anything in the store to indicate drivers outside were panicking about empty gas tanks and stations. "I'm surprised everyone's in such a good mood," he said.

In Chandler, Maria Nunez, manager of a McDonald's on Chandler Boulevard, said traffic appeared to be unaffected, both inside the restaurant and in the drive-though lane. "There aren't any problems," she said. "It's a regular, normal day."

Some companies need to get the product to the customer. At Crismon Unforgettable Flowers in east Mesa, manager Kelly Baldwin said, "We've been having to make more early deliveries, when we have gas. We're having to use personal vehicles because there isn't time to wait for gas. But we're still getting our deliveries out one way or another."

Chris Dezorzi said that while the Domino's Pizza where he works at 727 W. Ray Road in Chandler hasn't experienced any delivery problems so far, it's just a matter of time. When the delivery problems hit, he said, the store will change its business strategy.

"We'll be offering better carry-out specials," he said.

For larger companies such as Salt River Project, keeping the fleet moving is less of a problem. They buy in bulk and have their own fueling stations. But some adjustment is needed — even if fueling up is no problem. SRP told company drivers to be careful near stations with gas lines because some people drive erratically there, spokeswoman Patty Garcia Likens said.

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