FIRST ON FOX: Central Virginia small business owners have spoken out about America’s rising inflation and the state of the economy, warning they anticipate ‘a lot of trouble’ this holiday season with supply chain issues and the price of goods continuing to skyrocket.
Robin Litz and her husband, Shawn, along with their daughter, Tara Birely, own a small business called Kissed Cupcakes in Forest, Virginia. The trio sat down for a recent interview with FOX Business where they expressed concerns about the U.S. economy and how inflation, which is at a 40-year high, and high gasoline prices have had a negative impact on their 11-year-old small business.
Shawn told FOX Business that the overall cost of goods for their family business, which started in 2011, has “increased between 30 and 35 percent” and said they would have priced themselves “right out of business” s they weren’t. forced to raise their prices “probably by 10 to 15 percent”.
“Like, a year and a half ago I was paying $2 a pound for butter,” Shawn said. “…$3.75 a pound now. Eggs, [we were] buy eggs of 60 units for $3.50, now it’s $10.”
“So butter, sugar, flour, they all went up,” he continued. “I would say it even increased by 30 to 35 percent.”
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Robin said she believes ‘higher gas prices have caused inflation to rise’ on their products, with Tara noting that even everyday use items like containers have gone up in price. , “not only the raw materials”.
“And everything has probably grown more strongly in the last nine months than in the 10 years we’ve been in business,” Shawn added, noting that he “went to four or five grocery stores” when he used to. to go to one.
“And at one point we couldn’t find powdered sugar anywhere,” Robin said. “We eventually found him through Sam’s Club, and he had to be shipped from Houston, TX to Lynchburg, VA. He was nowhere to be found.”
Shawn pointed out that until they found powdered sugar at Sam’s Club, their business relied on the small two-pound bags of Walmart’s confectionery staple.
Robin said one of her “main worries” is the usual holiday scarcity, which she says will be exacerbated this year.
When asked what advice they would give as small business owners to the Biden administration and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, Shawn replied, “It’s just a joke. I don’t think not that they have the listening ear of the middle class. I don’t think they have the listening ear of the common people.
“There is such a division in this country right now too,” he added. “It creates a lot of that.”
“I don’t want to travel to DC, I want them to come here. I want you to come to our store. I want you to see what’s going on here,” Robin said. “I want you to see how we’re suffering, how we can’t meet the payroll, how we’ve lost customers, how employee morale has dropped over the past two years.”
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When asked what they thought of politicians like President Biden who took the leap to declare an economic recovery, Robin and Shawn replied, “The economy hasn’t come back.”
“Totally disagree. I don’t care if he goes over there and says inflation is down 0% or up 0% or whatever. It’s still there. Nothing hasn’t changed. I’m still paying the same price as I’ve paid for it all,” Shawn said. “What if gasoline went down a dollar while it was up three dollars, but my product prices hadn’t gone down to reflect that dollar. Gasoline went down, so I say bologna.”
Later in the interview, Tara expressed concerns that small businesses are taken for granted and compared them to American businesses, saying that small businesses are the “backbone” of America and that they really care about their customers.
“When you work in a small business, we care about people,” Tara said. “We don’t just care about what goes out, how much money we make. We care about the people who work for us and when you lose that, when you lose that connection, which I think is what we miss you now and if you have all these small businesses closing and you lose this family, what will the world be like?”
While inflation, supply chain issues and high gas prices have plagued their small business over the past year and a half, they faced many obstacles before that with the pandemic. Less than two weeks after moving to a larger retail space in March 2020, many of the weddings and birthday celebrations they were planning have been canceled due to shutdowns across the state and country.
“We had to transform into something new, something different,” Robin said. “People couldn’t find bread on the shelves at the bakery, so we started making bread because that’s what customers needed. That’s what they wanted. We were able to stay open because that we were a food industry so we did a lot of curbside pickups.. we did deliveries.. we took out the food trailer.
Despite deliveries and curbside pickups, Robin said Kissed Cupcakes’ sales “slumped for a while,” forcing them to lay off some of their employees. She then said that they applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, but failed in the first round and when they finally received the check after the second round, they found out. that it would not cover a single salary. It was around $8,800.
Robin said Kissed Cupcakes isn’t the only struggling small business in the area, adding that they know several small business owners and “most of them had to close” because they couldn’t even not get PPP money.
“The problem was that once all the restrictions were lifted, you could hire people. You could open up. You could be active again. Nobody wanted to work,” Robin said. She also mentioned that the minimum wage in Virginia “has gone up so much” that they “can’t maintain the 160 hours a week.”
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Local media reports for surrounding areas near Kissed Cupcakes show that several small business owners face the same obstacles as the Litz family. Burt Taylor, owner of Badger On Main, a bar and restaurant in Lynchburg, told local media over the summer that he had seen a 20-23% increase in product prices.
“You just have to find more ways to reduce. I mean, you can change your prices on the menu to a point, like you can’t charge, you know, I can’t charge you 80 bucks for 20 winged chickens, I can’t do that, I have to be reasonable,” Taylor said.
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