Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 11:41:37 AM

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Gas Prices Won't Wilt Local Floral Businesses

(Source: Kate Thornton)

Every Friday and Saturday morning, 80 year old Joe Libous comes to work at Flowers at Dillenbecks.

He checks his list of deliveries, loads up the delivery van, takes one more glimpse at his list, and heads out off to the first of many stops.

"On a good day I'll drive 110-150 miles," said Libous.

Libous drives all over the Triple Cities delivering flowers and making people's days.

But by noon, the delivery van's gas tank has less than a quarter tank of gas left.

That's Libous' cue that it is time for a necessary stop, filling up at the pump.

"I always try to find the cheapest station around," said Libous.  "Forty dollars will hopefully last the rest of the weekend."

Flowers by Dillenbecks' Manager Cheryl Fritsch says the price of gas affects everything.

"We have to pay to have the flowers delivered.  Our shipping has gone up.  There's tariffs and tax that's been added because of it.  The trucking companies, they have to somehow get their money back," said Fritsch.

Gas prices in the Southern Tier are closing in at $4/gallon, which is forcing businesses with delivery services, like Dillenbecks, to keep a sharp eye on how far and how much their gas guzzling vans go.

"Not taking outlying areas as much, and if we do we would have to charge a little extra," said Fritsch.

For wholesale flower stores like Cleveland Plant and Flower and Company, keeping the cost of flowers to the local retailers has been a challenge as of late.

Especially because their flowers will sometimes come from as far away as Florida.

"It's very tough to incur that cost.  But, we do and we suffer a little but, but we try to help all the flower shops to get what they need at the prices they want," said CP&F assistant manager Brett Green.

Which forces businesses like Dillenbecks to do something it's reluctant to do.

"If the prices of incoming flowers change, we're going to have to start raising our prices a little bit.  We're trying to hold back as long as we can, because you never know when the price might break," said Fritsch.

But, for Joe Libous, fluctuations in the prices of gas is a secondary concern.  His reward stems from something that remains constant, no matter what the price at the pump might be.

"My favorite part about my job is... everything.  Just making people happy," said Libous.

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