Feeling the impact of skyrocketing fuel costs

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:53

    WARWICK - Anyone who commutes to work is well aware that the rising price of fuel has cut a severe dent in take home pay. But local business owners do not have to travel very far to realize that same impact. "Many of our products have to be trucked to our market," said Steve Pennings, owner of Pennings Farm, Fish and Meat Market. "I've seen some shipping invoices where the fuel surcharge is almost a third of the total bill." Pennings explained that, for several years, shipping companies have either added fuel surcharges or allowed for the additional expense in their normal rates. Recently, however, they've doubled those charges and, in some cases, added that on top of the original surcharge. "The trickle down effect will be unbelievable," he said. "The cost of goods will skyrocket." And with Warwick's apple picking season about to begin, Pennings believes local orchards should be prepared for a mediocre season. "The people from the city may decide they can't afford the trip," he said. "And those who usually go apple picking two or three times each fall might limit that to one." Almost every local business is directly or indirectly affected by the price at the pump. "My shipping charges are extraordinary," said Deborah Blomfield, owner of Port of Call Home Furnishings. "I try to place my orders so that at many items as possible are on a single truckload." For some merchants like Mary Beth Schlichting, owner of Frazzleberries, there may be a silver lining. "People will think twice before they drive to the mall," she said. "Almost everything we need is right here in Warwick." Debbie Iurato, owner of Peck's Wines and Spirits, agrees with that assessment and also adds another silver lining. "As shipping charges increase," she said, "The Internet may also loose customers to local business."