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Published: Friday, 5/11/2001

Rising fuel costs tax budget of businesses on the go

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Bill Kakmis must raise South End Pizza's delivery charge. Bill Kakmis must raise South End Pizza's delivery charge.
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Ordering a pizza, buying a bouquet, and riding in a limousine are among the many services and deliveries likely to cost a little more because of higher gasoline prices.

South End Pizza Co. on Arlington Avenue plans to raise its delivery charge this month to $1.50 from $1.

“It's an added burden to the customer, but what can we do?” asked owner Bill Kakmis. He predicted the higher charges will result in a loss of 2 to 3 percent of his customers.

Higher costs to haul flowers from South America and the West Coast to local florist shops has raised the wholesale price of cut flowers by 9 percent since late last year, said Fred Moor, co-owner of Ken's Flower Shops. His shops in greater Toledo have passed that cost on to customers since December, but haven't changed their delivery charge.

At Childers Limousine Service, weekly gas bills that were $800 more than a year ago before price hikes are now $2,000 - even though the limo business has slowed with a jittery economy. Owner John Childers added a $5 an hour surcharge last week, which brings the total for many vehicles at his Reynolds Road lot to $53 an hour.

If gasoline price hikes are sustained, the cost of many goods and services is likely to go up. Among the first to feel the heat, however, are delivery drivers and businesses built around operating vehicles.

At White Knight Limousines on Secor Road, president Doug Reinhard said his least fuel efficient vehicles get 12 miles per gallon. But it's the more efficient cars that make trips to Detroit Metropolitan Airport that he's worried about.

Chuck's Unicorn Florists/X-treme Roses still offers free delivery for a dozen roses. But it raised its rose price in January to $35, up from $30, largely because of costs in getting flowers from South America to Toledo. If gas prices stay high, free deliveries could end, owner Chuck Stelnicki said.

At Black & White Cab Co., co-owner Judy Potter said she plans soon to ask Toledo city council's taxi review board to permit a fuel surcharge or higher rates. Larger bills probably would mean fewer customers, she said, but added that she had no choice.

Local rates, which are $2 for the first one-fifth of a mile and 40 cents for each subsequent fifth, last increased in 1998.



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