Inflation pushing small businesses to the brink

National / World

(NewsNation Now) — On Saturday, Eliah Lefferts locked up one last time.

He and his wife headed to Newington, Connecticut, during the pandemic to realize a dream: Opening a toy store everyone could enjoy.

“This community in Newington is phenomenal, wonderful people and loving people,” Lefferts said Friday. “But it just wasn’t enough.”

JoJo’s Toys and More could not keep up with the rising costs of doing business as the world economy recovers from the pandemic, Lefferts said. He said his costs went up 300% during his ownership, and shipping delays are at 75 days — and increasing.

“I’d say prices are at least going to double,” he said of toy products this holiday season.

Leffert, who was laid off when the pandemic began, is not the only business owner who is having trouble seeing a way out. Myron Mixon, owner of Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque in Virginia, said the restaurant industry is also staring at ballooning costs.

“Everything is at least doubled in cost,” Mixon said Friday. “And the thing is, there’s just so much of that extra cost you could pass on to your customer, because there is a ceiling that your customer is willing to pay for that meal.”

Mixon said many of the issues in his industry trace back to meat packing plants that have had trouble keeping employees on the production lines during the pandemic.

He said he and his business team are running the numbers to see if they can ride out this inflation surge. “We had that conversation, and, you know, there’s gonna be a (tipping) point,” he said.

Even bigger businesses and franchises are feeling it. Bennigan’s CEO Paul Mangiamele said his menus are in flux to compensate for delays.

“We’ve had to come up with a substitute product or adjust the menus themselves and streamline them,” Mangiamele said.

Lefferts said he may try to resurrect his business in a few years when supply chain issues have smoothed out. Guided by their faith, he says he and his wife are able to see the positives in what they did.

“Here, we know everybody’s name,” Lefferts said. “I know all the people, their names are on the wall from painting their stuff on arts and crafts in the back wall. We made a loving place.”

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