How Fuel Prices Are Affecting Businesses and Police in North Carolina’s Cleveland County

Holly’s Flowers has been a Cleveland County staple for 46 years.

Owner of the Shelby Pillar located in the 100 block of East Graham Street, Holly Brock said she has encountered many challenges with owning a local business over the years. But the equation that led to the current situation is certainly unique.

“Right now it’s not a picnic, but we’ve seen them go up and down,” she said of gas prices ranging from $4.13 to $4.30. $ statewide, according to AAA Carolinas.

Brock employs one person to spend the day making deliveries throughout Cleveland County. Most days that only include one van, although others are brought around holidays known to deliver flowers such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

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Current fuel prices can’t hold back deliveries because it’s a big chunk of the business, but it has had an impact on prices, she said.

“I’ve tried to keep my prices down because I know people are struggling too,” she said. “We just bring them up a bit and hope they can come back down.”

And bit by bit, Brock said delivery further into the county, maybe Polkville, might cost a few dollars more.

“But $2 is more than just to go to some of these places we go,” she said. “We go to a lot of postcodes.”

“We still have to be there”

Government agencies are also feeling the impact of the sudden rise in gasoline prices.

Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford said he will still have to determine where that extra money will come from, but he has no plans to alter the front-line work being done by the department.

“We are in a unique position because what we do cannot really change. We still have to be out there,” Ledford said.

The police chief said there have been discussions in the past, but the department has never chosen to take alternative approaches such as increasing foot patrols or setting up two officers in one car rather than each having their own.

“If we have two cars in one area, we want to keep two cars in one area,” he said of his department, which includes more than 80 officers.

Ledford said if the department takes a financial hit due to the current situation, it will be handled administratively, although exactly what that means remains to be determined.

“Gas prices are high. There is a budgetary impact… You still have to deal with it, but you have to find a balance,” he said. “We are going to be fiscally responsible, but at the same time we are going to balance your needs.”

Hanging in there, pushing forward

Brock said the current situation was already difficult with supply chain difficulties.

Now, not only will its deliveries cost more in gasoline, but its supplies could still increase due to fuel prices on this side of the business.

Its philosophy is to continue to provide quality service at a reasonable price.

“I’m just a very unbiased person about how people are suffering from the pandemic and now that and I’m worried about Ukraine,” she said. “We’re just trying to hold on and move on.”

The Exxon near the intersection of Dixon Boulevard and East Marion Street in Shelby Thursday afternoon March 10, 2022.

Cost reduction measures

AAA Carolinas offers the following tips on how to save fuel:

  • Take your car to a repair shop as soon as possible if the check engine light comes on. This indicates a problem that is causing excessive emissions and likely reducing fuel economy.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Underinflation reduces fuel economy.
  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes a significant drop in fuel economy when speed exceeds 80 km/h.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions significantly increase fuel consumption.
  • Avoid prolonged idling to warm up the engine. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less of an effect on fuel economy than the engine power needed to run the air conditioning compressor.
  • Plan ahead to complete multiple errands in a single trip and, whenever possible, travel outside of peak traffic hours of the day.

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