Exhaustion, frustration: One ABQ small business' inflation experience - Albuquerque Journal

Exhaustion, frustration: One ABQ small business’ inflation experience

Grizzly Graphics’ owner Joshua Jaramillo has had to endure the challenges of the pandemic, especially now with the skyrocketing costs of supplies and labor. Jaramillo is one of many business owners who are now having to contend with pandemic-related ripple effects years after the initial economic shutdown began. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

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It’s a feeling Grizzly Graphics owner Josh Jaramillo has come to know well more than two years into a pandemic, and it’s a feeling that is now only compounded by continuing skyrocketing inflation.

“Just in general most business owners were worn out before, but it’s a different level,” he said.

Jaramillo’s screen printing company, located at Candelaria and Stanford NE, is just one of the many small businesses that continue to face pandemic-related ripple effects like inflation.

The United States’ consumer price index for June reached 9.1% over a 12-month period, marking the largest jump in prices in more than 40 years. Categories like energy, food and some textiles have all seen double digit increases in costs during that time period.

At Grizzly Graphics, supplier price increases began last year and show little signs of ending.

“Last year there was about an 80% increase in our costs to run a business, and (this June there) was another 20% or 15% per company increase,” Jaramillo said.

It began with the price of ink.

Jaramillo said at one point last summer, distributors were selling white ink for about $200 a gallon. In 2018, the same item went for about $67.

But it didn’t end at ink. Commonly used items like acetone jumped from $16 a gallon to $24, while Gildan brand shirts increased from $1.70 to $3.80.

Part of the price increases, Jaramillo said, is due to manufacturing shutdowns overseas and a depleting supply of items at warehouses in the United States leading the distributors to charge increasingly high rates.

“It’s kind of like a delay effect. Like, you thought everything was fine until that one day that that last shirt was sold – and then we ran into problems,” he said.

As material costs increased, Jaramillo said prospective employees and current employees were also asking for higher wages to afford living in a world that was becoming more expensive.

He said starting wages at the company used to be $12 an hour.

Now employees are starting at $15 to $17 an hour, which means Jaramillo is paying an extra $1,000 in labor costs a day for the roughly 25 employees.

While labor costs have increased, Jaramillo said he would rather increase wages in order to keep his staff.

All of these jumps in cost mean that Grizzly Graphics customers are now paying about 40% more for products compared to prepandemic costs.

“It leads to us having to increase prices to customers which frustrates customers which leads to you possibly losing customers or having to work things out,” he said.

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