Steamboat Floral and Gifts employee Donna Segale places flowers inside one of the store's coolers. High gas prices have impacted business and changed the way the store makes deliveries and does business.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Floral and Gifts employee Donna Segale places flowers inside one of the store's coolers. High gas prices have impacted business and changed the way the store makes deliveries and does business.

Pump prices raise delivery costs

Steamboat flower shops, pizza joints inch up fees; taxi rates unchanged

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— Americans love getting stuff delivered to their door. But as gas prices rise, so does the cost of those store-to-door trips, and some local businesses have had to compensate.

Steamboat Floral and Gifts has felt the impact.

"We've definitely had to raise our delivery prices, and we still haven't been able to raise them enough to really meet what we need here," owner Cathy Vogelaar said. "It's either stay in business or try to make it up in other ways. It's been very tough on us."

The store charges $8.95 to $20 for delivery, depending on the area. Floral arrangements cost a minimum of $35, which means the total cost of a delivered bouquet is at least $44. Customers can pick up arrangements at the store if they don't want to pay for delivery.

Steamboat Floral has encountered increasing rates from UPS, FedEx and vendors, Vogelaar said. High gas prices also have affected the flower supply.

"We closed our tent outside a little early because we couldn't get trucks to come up here," she said. "They doubled their prices for delivery. : Some of our vendors, the greenhouses, two of them went under because of the cost of heating the greenhouses for the winter."

It doesn't help that flowers aren't a necessity, Vogelaar said.

"There's no doubt in your mind that somebody's going to cut back on flowers and going out to eat and the luxuries," she said. "And then you notice that instead of adding a balloon or adding a box of chocolates, they say, 'Just give me the floral arrangement this time.'"

The business climate is ugly, Vogelaar said. It's not just flowers, though, she said. Anyone who has to bring products into the Steamboat Springs area is going to feel the pain of pump prices.

Steamboat Floral also has tried to consolidate delivery trips to reduce costs. Tall Tulips is doing the same, one employee said.

"The biggest part of it for us is instead of delivering the orders as they come in, we just try to deliver it all at the end of the day instead of doing 10 small ones," Kaitlin Stabrava said.

Tall Tulips also has raised its delivery charge. Customers pay $7 for destinations in Steamboat. Like Steamboat Floral, Tall Tulips won't deliver arrangements that cost less than $35, putting the minimum total at $42.

"We're a pretty high-end flower shop, so I think when people order from us, they know they're going to be spending a lot," Stabrava said. "The delivery fee is the least of their worries. That's just the kind of business we are."

Pizza and cabs

At Pizza Hut, drivers use their own vehicles and pay for their own gas, manager John Hamilton said. The chain has raised its delivery fee 25 cents, to $2, to help them out.

"We're compensating our drivers more with that extra quarter," Hamilton said. "They do rely on tips, and sometimes they don't get those."

He said the high cost of driving all across town has driven a lot of drivers out.

"When they have a vehicle that they're spending $85 or $100 filling up : sometimes they don't make a lot at the end of the week," Hamilton said. "And that's why we lose them."

At Soda Creek Pizza Co., drivers use company vehicles, and Soda Creek pays for the gas, manager Chris Crider said.

The company hasn't raised its $2 delivery charge. But it's thinking about doing so, Crider said.

"It hasn't affected us yet," he said, "but it will soon."

Alpine Taxi also has avoided increasing rates because of fuel costs, operations director Bobby O'Toole said. The company has downsized its fleet and shifted its schedule of shuttles to Yampa Valley Regional Airport to compensate, he said.

"If we were concerned about the fuel, we would put a surcharge in there," O'Toole said. "We believe gas has topped out and will stay where it is for the summer and slightly go down for the future."

Taxi rates are likely to increase in winter, he said. O'Toole said that increase was a result of other rising costs, such as labor and insurance.

"It'll be a few dollars here and there," he said.

O'Toole said Alpine Taxi was pleased that it could keep its rates the same in the face of record gas prices.

"We have decided to accept it as part of doing business rather than pass it on to the consumer at this time and are very proud of that," he said.

Comments

ColoradoNative 5 years, 9 months ago

"We're a pretty high-end flower shop, so I think when people order from us, they know they're going to be spending a lot," Stabrava said. "The delivery fee is the least of their worries. That's just the kind of business we are."

Well good luck with that strategy. Meanwhile someone right behind you is working on a BETTER, CHEAPER, FASTER product.

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another_local 5 years, 9 months ago

Co Native, for products where transportation is a major cost element, better and faster are possible, cheaper no longer is. Think about where flowers come from and what it takes to bring them to Steamboat and from there to your door. Nobody is achieving "cheaper" when it comes to transport these days.

Service and quality are worth paying for.

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