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Inflation and Gas Prices Hit Sellers | Local

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STURGIS – As inflation plagued the country, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally vendors are among those paying the price.

Several vendors noted smaller numbers and less foot traffic so far at this year’s rally, with speculation ranging from heat to gas prices, but the resounding theory was that it was just plain expensive .

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Between rising gasoline prices and inflation pushing up operating costs, sellers have been hit hard by this year’s rally, with some having to lower prices for their products as their costs rise.

Bill James came to the rally as a salesman from Clinton, Iowa, for the law offices of Richard M. Lester. For his 24th rally and his third year as a seller, James said the price for him to travel had more than doubled since last year. He spent $648 traveling from eastern Iowa, up from about $300 last year.

James said they were paid by the mileage to get to the rally, but the mileage rate did not cover the full cost.

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Hints of the inflation effect popped up in the $11 lemonade, and waitresses at the Loud American Roadhouse said the crowd was “dead”.

Cost of operation isn’t the only thing affecting providers. Their own food and housing are also more expensive.

“It’s getting expensive for vendors to eat,” James said.

Although there are several fees associated with setting up as a seller at the rally, most said the cost has remained the same. Prices for gasoline, accommodation and, in the case of food vendors, the price of food are where the rise has hit the hardest.

Elaine Duvall has been running Frank’s Greek Delight and has been coming on board as a salesman since 75, she said. The cost of food has increased dramatically, she said, but she also has to travel from Illinois.

Duvall speculated that the price of the trip was to blame for the lower numbers this year.

“It’s on every level,” she said. “Everyone takes care of it.”

She estimated a 10% increase in the food she needs to buy to run her farm, sometimes 20% depending on the article. She was able to keep her prices at the same level this year, but predicted that she would have to adjust them if the increase continued next year.

“That’s the problem,” Duvall said. “As potato growers – you have shortages in different areas of different types of food and that’s it alone – supply and demand. Your fries prices are going up.

With the price going up, most people don’t have extra money to spend, said Aadi Asif, a seller of ionic mineral bracelets.

Asif said he needed to lower his prices, despite his own costs rising. Its main increases as a seller during the rally were accommodation and travel.

Asif has been coming to rally for six years and travels the country every week. Coming from California, the cost of his flight was one of his biggest expenses.

Asif also noticed a drop in turnout, citing gas prices and “everything else”.

“It’s expensive for these people,” he said. “People don’t want to spend.”

And when people don’t spend, sellers suffer, Asif said.

Because Asif travels across the country, he is able to compare prices in different states, estimating that he has seen higher inflation prices than South Dakota in about 13 states.

Asif also speculated that the rally doesn’t see many new bikers – much of the same crowd returning. His particular product has already been bought by many people who will buy it, he said, adding to the lower numbers he saw. He said his presence over the past few years has been more marketing than sales.

According to the City of Sturgis, 733 temporary vendor licenses were issued this year, compared to 655 issued last year. Although fees haven’t increased to open a store, the lack of customers has left sellers wondering if it’s worth it.

James, Duvall and Asif have all said they plan to return next year, but are watching running costs closely and hoping for the best.

–Contact Laura Heckmann at lheckmann@rapidcityjournal.com–

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