MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Inflation in the U.S. has hit its highest level in nearly 40 years. Labor Department officials say the consumer price index rose 7% in December over a year earlier. Some small businesses are feeling a direct impact of inflation.
Jim Massey, president of Jim Massey’s Cleaners in Montgomery, says soap is up over 30%, the plastic that goes over clothing is up 37%, and they are paying 57% more for hangers. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when is come to rising cost and supply issues they are experiencing.
“We have a very, very hard time getting coat hangers. We’re asking customers to bring in their coat hangers so that we can recycle,” said Massey. “And the scary part is where does it end. Because we’re doing the same thing that every other company is doing. We’re paying all the personnel more, but they’re not seeing the benefits because everything’s going up. It’s crazy.”
First, COVID-19 dealt this small business a blow.
“Initially, we were off 75% in sales, in revenue. And it was obviously because people were not going to work, people were not going to church, they weren’t going to funerals, they weren’t going to weddings, they weren’t going to social events. The events that we need people to go to, to put on a coat and tap and go to the cleaners,” said Massey. “We saw it immediately. Then it slowly came back.”
And now inflation is adding more pressure. In June, Massey says they raised their prices by 9%.
“That 9% is still not enough to compensate for the coat hangers that has to go out on every single garment, the poly that has to go out on everything single garment, the increased wages, the increased gas expense, the utility expense. I mean, power bill down here will be somewhere between $27,000 to $30,000 a month, our gas bill,” said Massey. “It hurts bad. It keeps you from making future plans because you don’t know what’s going to be left it to at the end.”
Massey points out they have enhanced their services during this time. They added 24-hour drop boxes, two stores with 24-hour locker service, and an app for pickup and delivery services.
“There are a lot of things that will, for the long term, benefit the company, benefit the personnel, and benefit the customer. Ultimately, all three have to win,” said Massey.
One thing Massey is very proud of is that they’ve been able to maintain their staff and even expand by joining forces with Save A Trip Cleaners, Tully Andrews Cleaners and Dixie Cleaners.
Jim Massey’s Cleaners has been in business since 1941 and has 11 locations.
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