Rising inflation, rising commodity prices and high gas costs have drastically affected the livelihoods and lifestyles of consumers and business owners across the country, and Franklin is no exception.
Small business owners on Franklin’s Main Street have been struggling to meet the challenges of the recent economy.
Graeme Asch, owner of Franklin Mercantile Deli and Cantrell Concrete, has had to raise the price of meals at his restaurant. The cost of premium quality equipment and components is increasing.
“I think the only way businesses are going to survive is we’re just going to have to raise prices and just hope we don’t drive customers away,” he said. “Fifty cents more for a sandwich and side doesn’t sound like much, but it can be that extra bit to keep people out of your business versus going somewhere else. I think we still have the best value for your money in terms of prices, we are still one of the most affordable places to eat in the city center and we have good food. I say I will never sacrifice the quality of my food … or bring in cheaper ingredients. I’ll close it first.”
Some owners are experiencing contraction, with dealers selling fewer products or not as many premium products compared to previous years; others are also charging additional land and sea freight charges.
“It’s really hard,” said Marianne DeMeyers, owner of Tin Cottage Gift Shop. “Sometimes the fees are up to 10%, and sometimes that can be what a business owner makes is 10% profit for their companies. When you get extra charges, that takes it away.”
She went on to say that the rising cost of living and the price of gas have also affected employees and family travel, which also affects her business.
“Specifically, in Franklin, we’re seeing a little bit less travel,” she said. “People are holding on to their money a bit more, but it hasn’t had as much of an impact as the travelers that are still coming. We are lucky to have healthy tourism; they’re just spending a little less. It is also more difficult to get employees. We’re paying more now, which is fine. What we’ve done with kind of a pivot is we have great employees who have been with us for years, and instead of having more employees, we end up giving our current employees more responsibility and paying them more.”
“Fuel really drives a lot of the market,” Asch said. “When demand is high and supply is low [it will increase the prices]. … Fuel drives the trucks that move the food, the transportation between the farmer and the consumer.”
Both Asch and DeMeyers said they were grateful for the Franklin community’s support of their businesses during difficult times.
“There’s never a fine line for the economy to go negative, but I will say that I’ve worked in a lot of places, my husband and I have moved around a lot, and we’re so lucky to be in a community like Franklin where everyone small business owners support each other,” DeMeyers said. “People in the community support us.”