Area merchants say it’s a tough battle trying to hold the line against rising gas prices.
The cost for more expensive gas eventually gets passed on to the consumer no matter how the retailer feels about it.
Doug Burroughs has been selling plants and flowers in the Manassas area for 29 years and this is one of the worst years he’s seen.
Before Burroughs makes his first delivery from The Flower Gallery in the Manaport Plaza at 8351 Sudley Road, he has to get his flowers and plants from someone else.
He has some of his plants shipped from Florida twice a month.
His order has remained the same but his cost has soared.
“In three months, that delivery has gone from $325 to $700. It really cuts into your profit,” Burroughs said.
But Burroughs can’t pass all of that cost along.
Flowers and plants are a luxury item. If they cost too much, people just won’t buy them.
“We’re going to do everything we can not to raise our delivery prices,” he said. “If we’re not careful, we’ll price ourselves right out of business.”
Burroughs said the high gas prices have eaten into his volume as well.
Customers who once visited every two weeks now visit once a month.
They tell him that they’re trying to save on gas by consolidating their errands, and that means they don’t just hop in their cars to go buy flowers anymore.
“It will certainly affect our bottom line big-time this year,” Burroughs said.
Tepu Sultan, a full-time delivery man for Papa John’s Pizza at 4812 Dale Blvd., has seen his costs increase in percentages similar to Burroughs’ while his tips have decreased.
He drives a Toyota Echo that gets about 30 miles to the gallon.
It used to be that a week’s worth of gas cost him about $40. Now it costs him about $75.
Papa John’s will soon start charging a dollar for each delivery.
That’s a dollar that Sultan might have seen as part of his tip before gas prices started going up.
The cost of a pizza has risen as Papa John’s food costs have spiked with the higher fuel costs, Sultan said.
Orders for pizza with everything have decreased, the 35-year-old Sultan said.
“Now they’re only ordering pizza with cheese on it,” he said.
Prices on the menu at PW’s Eatery in Haymarket have remained constant, but owner Carlton Shutt, who also runs a catering service, has had to adjust his costs.
His bids on catering jobs for special events have gone up.
“It’s very definitely affecting the way we do business in those sorts of things,” said Shutt, a restraunteur of 13 years.
Increased fuel costs have eaten into his profit in higher food costs as well.
“Our invoice prices are definitely creeping up,” he said. “Obviously it’s affecting disposable income.”
Mary Pishock, of Mary’s Flower Shop in Triangle and Mary’s Dumfries Florist, said she charges $7 per delivery just to keep even with gas prices.
So far she’s been able to make up the difference in the price of her floral arrangements.
“So far we’ve been holding our own and haven’t had to increase the price, but I don’t know how long that can last,” Pishock said.
Pishock, who has been in business in the area for 27 years, said her customers understand and don’t kick up a fuss when prices go up.
“They go along with the flow,” said Pishock.
Still, her flower deliveries from Washington, D.C., and Springfield keep going up.
“It’s like dominoes, isn’t it?” she said.
Higher gasoline prices made Kevin Hvizdash change old habits.
He used to drive two miles to the Gold’s Gym in Manassas in a “fuel-inefficient van.”
When he got to the gym he’d warm up before and cool down after his workouts on a stationary bike.
“The price of gas, environmental concerns, and the warmer weather have convinced me to start riding my bike to the gym,” Hvizdash said.
The change of routine has had added benefits.
“I get to see a lot of our area that is normally missed when traveling by car,” he said.
David Nawrocki is looking for a way out of his daily trip from Warrenton to Woodbridge in his gas guzzler.
“I am searching for a carpool from Warrenton to Woodbridge since I have drive a large 4×4 truck,” said Nawrocki, a Prince William County property code enforcement Inspector.
Even as he is trying to save money for himself, Nawrocki tries to do the same for the county.
“Part of my employment entails field assignments, therefore I trying to make my route encompass as many assignments as possible in one trip,” he said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates that it will cost drivers an average of 8.5 cents per mile or $1,285 to drive in 2005.
Last year drivers paid an average of 6.5 cents per mile or $975 to drive where they had to go, including trips for pizzas and flowers.
Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.