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'It's rough': St. Louis business owners watch prices rise during gas spike

Mike Kampe last added a fuel surcharge at his restaurant supply company in 2008. As gas prices increase, he has a new threshold: $5 a gallon.

ST. LOUIS — With all the trucks out for delivery Monday morning, Kampe Supply Company owner Mike Kampe crunches the numbers at this third-generation company providing supplies to small restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

"This is the latest round of pricing increases for June 1 that we just received on Friday," he said holding up a list. "It's a weekly occurrence just going through re-adjusting prices for all inflation, fuel surcharges, and transportation issues."

He's seeing higher prices on most items but holding off on adding his own fuel surcharge for now.

"When it gets to the $5 mark we will start to impose fuel charges, minimums on delivery, we have to be more careful about how we ride our trucks," he said of the potential changes. "Just gotta be more proactive and be careful how you're doing things."

High gas prices are affecting deliveries of all sizes. Uber sent out an email on March 17 to their drivers offering help to offset gas prices.

"In St Louis, your customers will pay a $0.55 surcharge on every ride and a $0.45 surcharge on every delivery — and 100% of the surcharge will go directly to you," the email said.

Uber said the company would reexamine the situation in 60 days.

Still, some are trading four wheels for two.

Alex Ward says more people are joining their food delivery service, Foot Pedaler. He says it's hard to know how many people are because of the warmer weather versus the gas prices, but they are seeing more people join their ranks.

"Since we are all on bikes, in our day-to-day business, we don't really have to think about gas prices," Ward said.

Pickles restaurant owner Donna League says they get a lot of foot traffic, but when she has delivery orders, she steers them to Foot Pedalers partnering with them online and displaying their logo on the front door of their Downtown and Central West End locations.

Like all business owners, she keeps an eye on all rising costs.

"We have been getting surcharges from all of our delivery companies. It's rough but what they have to do, I'm sure," she said.

Kampe says he's avoided adding a fuel surcharge since 2008, but most of his clients are already dealing with higher costs in one way or another.

"It really doesn't come as a surprise to anybody," he said.

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