Some local small businesses shutting down due to inflation struggles

'It's pretty depressing - spent a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of money...and it could just go away'

Brittany Jacob Image
Friday, July 8, 2022
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Some small business owners in the Fresno area and beyond have had a rough few years - first the pandemic, now higher costs thanks to inflation.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some small business owners have had a rough few years - first the pandemic, now higher costs thanks to inflation.

Since the pandemic began, businesses have been struggling to deal with the rising costs of inflation.

The local business Pokiland took to social media to announce its closure. Their Instagram post read: "Inflation is still at an all-time high for us and shows no sign of slowing down."

Owner of The Den Smokehouse & Brewery in Kerman, Caleb Walker, said a closure is looming for him, too.

"It's pretty depressing - spent a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of money...hundreds of thousands of dollars and it could just go away, that's the unfortunate thing," Walker said.

Summer months are his slower months, so as the income declines, the expenses go up.

He said, "We were buying tri-tip tip for $3.89 a pound, now we are up $8, maybe $9 a pound." Plus, he said his deep fryer oil went from $20 to about $44.

This means consumer prices are going up. His $11 tri-tip sandwich is now $16.

But despite the higher cost, some patrons say supporting local is still their priority.

While enjoying his tri-trip sandwich, The Den customer Eric Rivera said, "Something like this we are helping out the people here - you can't just go get this burger down the street, it's from here, it's authentic."

Meanwhile, another customer Courtney Perry agreed. "I think a lot of us try to opt-in for affordable food, but sometimes you have to pay the extra for quality," she said.

Walker also has a brewery in northwest Fresno, where the price of grain has shot up from $27 per bag to about $40 -$50 per bag.

His electric bill is also hitting his pocket. His PG&E bill went from $300 to a whopping $1,800 - all thanks to the chillers needed to keep the fermenters and walk-in storage cool.

Despite the accelerated inflation rate, unemployment is down and wages are up.

Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Miller said some businesses are seeing a good year and he believes inflation is not the only cause of businesses closing their doors.

"I don't think it is happening at a rate much higher than normal," Miller said.

Back at the brewery, Walker has a word for his customers, "Just have patience with us - we are doing all we can to serve our customers and to stay in business."

Some resources for small businesses:

The Small Business Administration helps fund a network of Resource Partner agencies around the San Joaquin Valley, across California, and all over the country which provides free consulting, counseling, and technical assistance to business owners. In Fresno, the SBA partners with several organizations including SCORE, the Small Business Development Center, and a new Women's Business Center which all provide free help to business owners.

If you are searching for funding, the City of Fresno provides resources that offer low- and NO- interest loans for businesses that may be unable to obtain traditional bank financing:

  • Cen Cal Business Finance Group (They administer the City's Revolving Loan Fund) (559) 227-1158
  • Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation (559) 222-8705
  • Access Plus Capital (559) 263-1351
  • Valley Small Business Development Corporation (559) 438-9680
  • Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce (they manage our 0% KIVA Loan Program) (559) 441-7929