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Milwaukee small businesses raise prices to keep up with economic challenges

Posted at 5:48 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 19:38:43-05

MILWAUKEE — Rising costs are making it more expensive to do business, pushing local shops to make tough decisions on how much they charge.

"Day to day it seems like we're getting an email from a manufacturer or distributor letting us know about price increases or supply shortages," said Zachary Dewitt, director of marketing at Skilos A Family Pet Store.

Those changes have made their way to small businesses like Skilos A Family Pet Store on Milwaukee's east side. Dewitt's family opened the place nearly a year ago, fulfilling a longtime dream.

Dewitt said they had to raise prices to keep up with the current economic conditions.

"We try to be as conscious as possible and cost-effective for our customers, but when a company decides to do a 12% mark up on their products, we have to pass that along. It's just something we can't absorb," Dewitt said.

Dewitt added that their team has to decide when to bring in a substitution, how to communicate the changes to customers and help customers find different products that fit their price point.

About 20 minutes west, Sichanh Volp's family has been dealing with these issues too.

Volp's family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War, and they have been running Mekong Cafe for nearly 14 years.

"This is all we have. You know, it's a small family business and we're not really making much, but it's still a living," Volp said.

The business has survived the pandemic so far by downsizing its dining room and adding a small grocery.

Recently, Volp announced they had to make the difficult decision to increase prices starting on April 1st, citing growing costs across the board. The family is also looking at decreasing their delivery radius.

"I've been trying to absorb some of those costs and not increase those prices to our consumers, but it's becoming a situation where if we don't do that we're going to see ourselves with a closed sign on our front door," Volp said.

Increasing prices is a daunting decision Volp said especially when you do not know how customers will respond. Thankfully, Volp said customers seemed understanding and supportive when she made a post about the change on Facebook.

Both businesses have noticed customers have been more careful with their spending.

It is not clear when the conditions will ease up, but Volp and Dewitt say they are taking on whatever comes their way.

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