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‘A Precarious Time’ for Small Business Owners

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November 12, 2021

By Barrett Seaman —

The Hud­son In­de­pen­dent pre­sents “The Sup­ply Chain Cri­sis Is­n’t Just Global; It’s Lo­cal,” a se­ries de­scrib­ing how in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing and ship­ping woes af­fect every­day life in the river­towns. Read on for the fourth in­stall­ment. (Catch up with our third installment featuring a local construction business struggling to price and plan projects for customers.)

Case #4: Penny Lick Ice Cream

Think of what it is you would need in order to run an ice cream store:

Cream, for starters.

Ellen Sledge, who started up Penny Lick Ice Cream on Warburton Avenue in Hastings-on-Hudson, also makes her own ice cream at a plant in Portchester. “I’m getting half of what I normally order weekly, and the prices in the last three months have shot up 40 percent,” she says. Sledge, who is active in local business alliances like the Rivertowns Chamber of Commerce and a newly formed Restaurant Alliance of Westchester (on whose board she sits) has checked around, and the story’s the same everyplace. “If I go to a restaurant, they don’t have any cream, either, and they don’t know when it’s coming.”

Tubs — two-and-a-halfgallon ones, made of a #2 plastic and ideal for bulk ice cream shipments, have dried up. “None of my vendors have them,” says Sledge, “and just as well; they have skyrocketed in price.”

Instead, she says, “I’m moving to cardboard tubs, which I paid for two months ago, but I haven’t received them yet.”

Disposable vinyl gloves for servers that come in boxes of 100 each are another problem. “In busy season,” says Sledge, “we can go through as many as four boxes a day. In February 2020, before the pandemic took hold, she paid $2.63-a-box. By June, she was paying as much as $18. By this November, prices had fallen to $7.65.

Plastic spoons, says Sledge, are priced at an all-time high — $21.90 for a box of one thousand medium-weight teaspoons — up from $6.93 just three months ago. And, adds, Sledge, “there is no supply.”

“It’s a precarious time to be a small business owner,” says Sledge. “I was thinking of opening another store or two in the next year,” she allows. But the combination of wildly fluctuating prices and unpredictable deliveries are giving her pause.

If the global sup­ply chain cri­sis af­fects your lo­cal busi­ness, please con­tact The Hud­son In­de­pen­dent.

 

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