Businesses Hit by Rising Gas Costs

A Bracco's tow truck driver loads a minivan into the truck's bed on Highway 25 Tuesday afternoon. The company uses a lot of gasoline, and rising prices have hurt its income.

Hollister
– Many local businesses are being hit by increasing gas costs,
and some of them are passing those price hikes on to consumers.
Hollister – Many local businesses are being hit by increasing gas costs, and some of them are passing those price hikes on to consumers.

Georgina Salinas, owner of Barone’s Florist, recently decided to increase her delivery fees by $2 after watching her gas costs go up for the past few months. At first, Salinas said she resisted increasing prices, but then she saw that her competitors had already done it.

“I thought, ‘Well, it’s time for me to go up a little too,'” Salinas said.

Barone’s now charges $7 for deliveries in Hollister and $10 for deliveries in San Juan Bautista.

Since the beginning of December, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in Hollister has increased by 31 cents, including a jump of 14 cents per gallon in the last two weeks.

A survey of 11 Hollister gas stations on Tuesday showed the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas is $2.78.

Florists aren’t the only one who need to drive to survive financially. Tony Gueracha, owner of A&N Plumbing, said that with plumbers traveling all around San Benito County, he spends some $1,500 every two weeks on gas.

That cost has held steady in the past year, he said, but only because the company’s gotten smarter about its driving.

“If we hadn’t changed our driving habits, it would be way higher,” Gueracha said.

A&N plumbers used to return to the office between calls. Gueracha said they now try to hit several stops before coming back to the shop, and that’s brought the company’s gas use under control.

“We try not to raise prices if fuel goes up a little,” Gueracha said. “It could just drop down a few weeks later.”

However, Gueracha said he would consider raising prices for his company’s plumbing services only if gas prices stay up for “around two months straight.”

“They’ve only recently got really high,” Gueracha said. “It’ll be a while before we raise prices.”

Danny Rubalcava, manager of Bracco’s Towing & Transport, said he’s in the same boat. Rubalcava estimated that the company has had to spend hundreds of extra dollars on gas in the past three months.

“The business we do is all driving,” Rubalcava said. “If it keeps going up, we’re just going to have to raise our prices. It’s getting close to it right now.”

Night Out Limousine owner Theresa Martin agreed that gas prices can be problem, but she said she’s gotten used to the fluctuations. Whenever she has to pay more than $2.98 for a gallon of gas, she tacks on a gas surcharge to her normal fees. Martin – whose limos sometimes drive from Hollister to San Francisco and back – added that the amount of the surcharge depends on how far someone is traveling.

“Clients learn to expect it,” she said.

But when increasing gas costs reflect higher costs in general, that can hurt business, Martin said, since limo rides aren’t exactly a necessity. On the other hand, increasing prices can also bring more business. That’s especially true during the summer, when families might decide to avoid traveling too far from home.

“They could opt to take a limo to go to San Francisco because it’s less expensive than a trip to Disneyland,” Martin said.

Anthony Ha covers local government for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or [email protected]

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