OBITUARIES: Decatur | Shoals | Huntsville
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‘It’s going to get better’
Business goes on in wake of high gas prices
By Ronnie Thomas
The Decatur Daily

Brennen Smith/Decatur Daily
Steve Ray gets fuel at the Kangaroo station on Sixth Avenue in Decatur. Gas prices have been steadily rising in the Valley.

The bad news for Valley residents is the price of gas on average has jumped 40 cents a gallon during the past month — from $3.21 a gallon to $3.61.

The good news?

“I don’t think we’re going to get a whole lot higher this year,” said Clay Ingram, a spokesman for AAA-Alabama. “I don’t think we’ll get close to the $4 mark, although we’re not that far away now.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better, but the steep increase we’ve seen over the past month should slow down considerably.”

Ingram and others around the country who track gas prices pin the spike chiefly on investors driving up crude oil in anticipation of the annual spring increase.

Most business owners in the Valley said they work to keep services and products as reasonable as possible as consumers have less to spend.

Tim Douthit, owner of Bendall’s Pharmacy, said increased gas prices place a small impact on his delivery service.

“(Higher gas prices) are a larger impact on consumer spending generally,” he said. “The high gas prices are curtailing people’s spending whether it relates to coming to the pharmacy, the grocery store, the mall, wherever.

“People are stopping and thinking twice between gas prices and all the new taxes they’re paying.”

Anthony Morris, who has operated 24-hour Morris Plumbing Service Inc. in Trinity for almost five years, said gas prices are impacting his business.

“But I try not to pass it on to our customers,” he said. “We have two trucks and two employees, and we’re now spending from $150 to $200 per week on gas. And we have the same rates we started with.

“We have a big customer base and that’s how we’re making it.”

Kristen Bentley, who co-owns Simpson’s Florist with her husband, David, said the cost of flowers has risen but that it has been “probably” four years since the business increased its delivery rates. Simpson’s, which uses 35 to 40 gallons of gas a week, charges $7.95 to deliver in Decatur and $8.95 in the outlying areas.

“All of our flowers are overnighted to us, just about every day,” Kristen Bentley said. “The largest orders come once a week, on Tuesdays. They are flown from the rose farms in Ecuador to Miami International Airport to a huge cooling facility. Then they are sent out in refrigerated trucks. We usually pay more for the shipping than we do for the flowers.” Bentley said when gas prices go too low, the overall economy suffers.

“I don’t want to see things go extremely inexpensive, but I would like to see gas prices stabilize at a price that is affordable but is still fair to everyone,” she said.

Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or rthomas@decaturdaily.com.

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