MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Inflation in the United States has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. Labor Department officials said the consumer price index rose 7% in December from a year earlier. Some small businesses are feeling the direct impact of inflation.
Jim Massey, president of Jim Massey’s Cleaners in Montgomery, says soap is up more than 30%, plastic covering clothes is up 37%, and they’re paying 57% more for hangers. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rising costs and supply issues they are facing.
“We have a lot of trouble finding hangers. We ask customers to bring their hangers so we can recycle them,” Massey said. “And the scary part is where it ends. Because we do the same as every other company. We pay all the staff more, but they don’t see the benefits because everything is going up. It’s crazy.”
First of all, COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to this small business.
“Initially, we had lost 75% of sales, income. And that was obviously because people weren’t going to work, people weren’t going to church, they weren’t going to funerals, they weren’t going to weddings, they weren’t going to social events . The events we need people to attend, put on a coat, type and go to the cleaners,” Massey said. “We saw it straight away. Then it came back little by little.”
And now inflation is adding more pressure. In June, Massey says it raised prices by 9%.
“That 9% is still not enough to offset the hangers that have to come out on every garment, the poly that has to come out on every garment, the increased wages, increased gas expenses, utility expenses. I mean, the electric bill here will be between $27,000 and $30,000 a month, our gas bill,” Massey said. “It hurts a lot. It prevents you from making future plans because you don’t know what will be left of it at the end.
Massey points out that they have improved their services during this period. They added 24-hour drop boxes, two stores with 24-hour locker service, and an app for pickup and delivery services.
“There are many things that will, in the long run, benefit the business, the staff and the customer. In the end, all three have to win,” Massey said.
One thing Massey is very proud of is that they have been able to maintain their staff and even grow by partnering 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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