Dogs, lawnmowers, barbecue: how inflation is hurting these industries


Animal shelters, landscaping companies and barbecue restaurants in Texas have all been hit by inflation in different ways. This is how they were hit the hardest.

DALLAS – Inflation is hitting many parts of the country in multiple ways. The cost of gasoline, food and most other goods and services rose again in May, pushing inflation to its highest level in four decades.

Consumer prices jumped 8.6% last month from a year earlier, faster than the year-on-year increase of 8.3% in April, the Department of Labor said on Friday. The new inflation figure, the biggest increase since December 1981.

And when you talk to business owners in North Texas, they all articulate differently how inflation affects the way they do their day-to-day jobs.

Starting the Lawn Mower

Mitch McGowan owns Garland’s DOTDIRT Organic Landscapes and has been working in the landscaping industry for over 30 years. His business is 100% organic and is usually booked around 90 days in advance.

“I build fences, decks and patios, gazebos and outdoor kitchens,” McGowan said. “[Inflation] affects us enormously.”

McGowan said labor costs have risen 30 to 35 percent over the past year and a half. He recently had a fencing job in May that cost $4,000 more than it did two years ago. Pipe prices are up 30% since last January, McGowan said. Sprinkler systems offered by McGowan have increased by approximately $1,000 since November 2021.

McGowan said he had to implement more signing bonuses to stay adequately staffed to do all of his work.

“And I don’t make any more money,” McGowan said. “I’m just trying to keep doing business.”

McGowan said his team is having a hard time just getting the products and materials needed for the job, including treated wood in 2021.

“This year, all of my prices are for one week only,” McGowan said. “Before, they were good for a year. I’ve never had one, let’s just say for over 50 years, and I’ve never seen this inflation.”

Often McGowan’s customers are also affected by rising prices. These are the phone calls that McGowan said are difficult to make.

“It’s absolutely difficult because I have to make the call saying, ‘Well, that’s 5% higher or 10% higher,'” McGowan said. “Some people are understanding. Some people are not. And some people are pulling their projects because the price has to go up so much. And it’s not with an increase in labor. It’s just materials .”

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Find a pet home

The North Texas Humane Society was founded in 1905 and is the oldest animal welfare organization in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. The non-profit organization provides services such as pet adoption, low-cost neutering and neutering surgeries and vaccinations, returning lost pets to their owners, cruelty investigations and humane euthanasia.

The Humane Society of North Texas operates five pet adoption centers in Tarrant and Kaufman counties, as well as four PetSmart cat adoption centers and an equine and breeding ranch located in Johnson County. .

Cassie Davidson is the director of communications, marketing and public relations for the Humane Society of North Texas. She said her nonprofit was simply struggling to get the medicine and materials needed for the shelters.

“The first thing that comes to mind is the exponential cost of caring for the pets we house and care for right now,” Davidson said.

From 2021 to 2022, the NPO’s entry-level salaries have increased by more than 20%. Parvo testing, cat triple testing, and heartworm testing increased by 15-65%. Transportation to and from shelters, to and from off-site events, and to and from stores where the nonprofit adopts cats increased by 80%.

While the price of virtually all shelter food and supplies has gone up, Davidson said cat litter boxes have gone up 100% and are hard to come by.

“With supply chain issues compounded by the surge, in particular, our cat litter boxes are up 100%,” Davidson said. “With this, we can’t get them. Those are slim choices.”

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Since the Humane Society of North Texas is a nonprofit organization, it operates through grants and donations. Davidson said his shelters needed a lot of resources.

“We have a whole team dedicated to grant funding and just trying to find as many grants as possible to top up where we can and when we can due to inflation challenges,” Davidson said.

The Humane Society of North Texas is hosting its sixth annual MEGA adoption event June 11-12 in the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibit Hall at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The nonprofit currently has over 1,200 pets in their care, many of which will be available for adoption at this event.

Smoked meats

Based in Dallas Dickey’s BBQ opened its first restaurant in 1941. It currently has over 550 locations in 44 states and is known for its slow-smoked barbecue.

Virtually every aspect of business is affected by inflation, according to Laura Dickey, CEO of Dickey.

“Inflation is literally fueled by fuel costs,” Dickey said. “America drives trucks, doesn’t it? Everything we need and use in the restaurant comes to us by truck.”

Dickey said the cost of chicken was up 103%, bread 11.5% and ribs 50% from a year ago. According to Dickey, the only type of protein that has remained somewhat stable is beef brisket.

In terms of the cost of non-food items and fuel, this represents an increase of 30-32% compared to last year.

“So in a 15-20% margin business, we’re above that line,” Dickey said. “Even when we see those prices stabilized on certain items like breast, that’s added to the incredibly huge inflation in shipping, trucking and labor.”

Dickey’s contains eight proteins that are part of the food offered by restaurants. So when the price of a protein starts to rise, Dickey said management and marketing teams try to focus on selling and promoting the other meats.

“When the chicken hits 103%, we can focus on our breast,” Dickey said. “When brisket or pork is high, we can go back to our chicken wings or our craft sausages, so we have some flexibility with our menu, but it’s definitely a challenge.”

Dickey’s has also had to completely alter its marketing schedule this year as restaurant executives need to focus more on their staples and meats as they cannot rely on the supply chain for non-essentials.

Dickey said that at this point in the year, his restaurant would have already had three or four limited-time offers. She said her team removed most of them.

“The best-laid blueprints have gone to waste, and that’s very much dictated by what’s happening in the commodity market,” Dickey said. “It definitely makes us creative.”

According to Dickey, many Dickey customers are also starting to use more coupons and order deals of the day. Customers are also more frequently taking leftovers home to get the most out of their meals.

“We’ve just passed the breakeven point with these high and sustained prices, but we’re feeling it all over the place,” Dickey said. “We love what we do. We love beef brisket. We’ve been here 81 years. We’ll weather the storm. We’ve had many different challenges under many different presidents, in many different economic conditions. So we know we can do it.”

One aspect that Dickey says surprised her is the fact that the restaurant’s third-party delivery revenue has actually increased recently. Dickey said many customers told his team they preferred the fixed price with delivery charges rather than having to fill up at the gas pump.

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