Business owners cite pinch of decreased revenue, higher fuel costs

WARRENSBURG Although retail business across Warren County has remained strong, Warrensburg business owners aired their complaints about revenue in an end-of-summer survey conducted door-to-door this week. Local retail and service business owners said they are struggling with increased operating expenses yet reduced revenues. With soaring fuel costs, the prospects of paying heating fuel costs this coming winter are daunting, many said. Some cited increased competition as hampering revenues. Its going to get worse before it gets better, said Rob Griffin of Bob Griffin and Son Automotive on Main St. We are definitely struggling. Griffin, who owns and operates the garage opened by his father 35 years ago and an associated snowmobile accessory shop, said that his overall volume is down this year and people are spending significantly less money. Griffin also said that a recent increase in taxes, combined with the lack of jobs, is devastating to the community. Griffin said he has not laid off any employees, but predicted that some businesses would likely be considering it. How does somebody justify living in Warrensburg, he said. This community needs more jobs and less taxes. A competitor of Griffins,, Vieles Automotive Center, is also feeling the pinch, an employee said. We are definitely suffering with high operating costs, Service Manager Tim Snyder said. Fuel for the tow truck has really hurt. Owner Randy Viele said that no layoffs have occurred. He said that the high expenses come directly out of the business, which remains viable. However, not everything is gloom and doom at Vieles. People are working on their old cars instead of buying new, Viele said. That has really been a huge help for us. The pain at the pump has had an equally devastating effect on the restaurant business as well. I used to pay $8.50 for a bag of flour, said Heck of a Pizza Owner Hector Vargas. Now its $22.50 a pound I cant afford to hire help, its just me. The reports from Warrensburg business owners contradict reports from other area communities, where business has remained strong. Some businesses in Glens Falls and Chestertown have been reporting a surge in revenue, and in Lake George, a modest downturn for most, an increase for others. Warren County as a whole has reported sales tax revenue as 5 percent higher than last year, year-to-date through June the latest figures available from the county or state. But in Warrensburg, a half-dozen businesses are closing, and most of the remaining ones cite falling revenues. According to Alexander Funeral Homes President John Alexander, the challenge is trying maintain fair pricing as overhead increases substantially. This building has to be kept warm 365 days a year, Alexander said. The entire situation presents a huge challenge. Nemia Holmes, Co-Owner of the Treasure Shop vegetable store said she has had to go back to factory work in order to pay for the overhead of her business. Our volume is down 40 percent this year, she said. We would love to hire and bring more jobs to town, but we just cant afford it. For the first time ever, Miller Art and Frame will be closing its doors for the months of January, February and March, store owner Yvonne Miller said. Its a tough decision we have never closed before, Miller said. We just cant rationalize staying open in the dead of winter. Another business owner downstreet has decided to call it quits, along with three or four of his peers along Main St. who are closing their doors. Its the worst business year I have ever seen in my 22 years of operation, said D&G Hardware & Variety owner Doug Strodel. My volume is way down and like everyone else, costs are way up. Strodel, who plans on retiring next year, said that if he had known how this year was going to play out, he would have retired earlier. D&G, however, faces increased competition from a variety of businesses. Reduced business volume was also reported at Warren Ford and Mercury and Ackleys Variety Store. We can thank New York State for putting us out of business, said Ackley Variety owner Dean Ackley, referring to taxes. Ackley said that although his Variety store was going out of business, his bottle redemption center is doing well and will stay open. However, not all is negative in Warrensburg commerce. Business is wonderful, said Rays Liquor owner Kathy Galusha. Volume is way up this year were not concerned with heating this place at all. Similar results were reported at George Henrys Restaurant and Bar. I think people are traveling less for their food and alcohol, said George Henrys Manager Todd Trulli. People are discovering there are plenty of places to eat in drink in town.

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