Column – Inflation Everywhere You Look

By: Forrest R. Church, Publisher
THE VILLAGE REPORTER

I hope this week’s column finds you well as we continue to enjoy warmer Northwest Ohio summer weather locally. Festivals are in full swing, summer ball teams are wrapping up their seasons, and firework shows have even started celebrating the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. I hope you are able to soak in this special time of the year, one of my favorite.


BRYAN’S “DAY AT THE PARK” – Our family was able to visit this year’s gathering around 8 p.m. and stay through the fireworks display on Saturday night. It was a very nice show, thank you to all that donated their finances and time to put on this annual event. I placed a video of the conclusion of the show on our Facebook page if you were unable to attend and would like to watch.


MOVIE, TOP GUN MAVERICK – My wife and I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to reward our oldest child for his academic accomplishments, taking him to see the movie Top Gun: Maverick. It was a rare time for us to have some one-on-one time with our teen, a nice evening. Though spending time as a whole family is important, sometimes I think I cherish the one-on-one time with a single kid at a time. You can hold a conversation without constant interruption and the battle for attention, which tends to happen with a carload of siblings.

As my prior columns have stated, I’m no fan of Hollywood personally. Maybe I’m becoming a “fuddy dud”. It seems like most of what is produced is vulgar and comedy which I used to enjoy, simply doesn’t seem funny anymore. I struggle watching movies with gun violence, knowing that featured actors who cash in on promoting gun violence in their films, then use their fame to tell society that we need to do more to stop the very violence they cashed in on. Even if I agree with their points, their hypocrisy is unbelievable.

Stupid movies with actors such as Chris Farley used to bring relief to a busy life for a few hours, a nice break from the stresses of life. I generally do not find much being produced anymore that even begins to grab my interest like the films I enjoyed 10-20 years ago.

Despite not being a fan, I tend to leave the theater with less money in my pocket, as the kids want to see a movie that was promoted their way, every three or four months. After all, I’m sure adults in my life took me to movies they didn’t want to see when I was a little one. Our kids enjoy movies and if it is mostly clean, I’m okay with spending some time with them at a local theatre. But I’ll admit, I might be that guy that dozes off and snores, sorry.

The movie Top Gun: Maverick that was recently released, WAS worth every penny. I have to say it was excellent, one of the best I have seen in a long time. I enjoyed the original when I was much younger and the sequel was in my opinion even better than the original, all these years later. If Hollywood can continue with entertaining movies like this maybe I’ll change my perspective.

I think the last movie I would have endorsed was the Christian film Courageous and that came out clear back in 2011.


INFLATION – Inflation prices are out of control. It was going to cost $20 for the three kids to play a water shoot game at recent town festival in order for one (maybe) to win a 25 cent stuffed animal (less than 30 seconds of entertainment time). Maybe I’m cheap, seems like prices jumped 4-6 times higher since I last paid attention. Used to be $1-$2 for a game. Not sure how folks on an average local salary can afford these prices?

At this festival I watched for a little while and noticed next to nobody was playing games, rather they were visiting local church booths and local business stands that had free activities (vs the out of town carnival stuff). Not all that long ago for $50-$100 you could take the family to a festival for hours and eat, making a night of it. Now a $100 bill may buy a few games, a few corn dogs, and 20 minutes worth of entertainment.

I’m not an economic expert, but it is clear something has to give, these prices everywhere jumping 10-100% cannot continue. It’s great we may have increased our checks by 10% more or less due to the government forcing minimum wage higher, but when expenses are 33% or more, we are going in the wrong direction (we netted more when we made less in our paychecks). Obviously there are a lot more important categories of expense than festival entertainment, example grocery prices, but as I watched empty $7 per game booths it seemed to confirm the economic problem we find ourselves in.

I will admit I am fiscally conservative with spending, having been personally helped by Dave Ramsey (maybe another column for another time) who teaches Biblical principal to finances, along with common 101 sense. I feel like a cheap “bad dad” when shutting down festival entertainment that we used to participate in. The kids see the flashing games with cool music and neat prizes, and of course want to play, just like I would have wanted at that age. As an adult and local business owner, I’d rather spend 1/3 of that and take them out to eat at a local restaurant and support another local business. But the kids do not understand this.

I shared this post on my facebook wall and was blown away with the high amount of comments others shared, stating they felt the same way and avoided the festival or did very little due to the high prices.

I used to help put on festivals and parades when on a local chamber board, I think maybe local organizers should look at encouraging more local booths and less out-of-town carnival crews that drain the local economy. Keep the money here locally, at least while inflation is hurting local families and business owners.

It takes a ton of work to put on a festival so I’m not complaining, those that organize and put the blood/sweat/tears should be thanked as most volunteer their time. Too many people do nothing but complain about local issues, being social media warriors, but equally would not lifting a finger themselves to actually get the ball rolling on improvements, so I do not want to join that camp.

More local participation from local vendors – just a thought for down the road as local festivals are being planned in the future.


MORE INFLATION – I fear I am going to have to make some decisions on our single piece newspaper sale price in the near future. We have been notified that our printing costs are going to increase significantly due to paper shortage and ink costs doubling. I hope we do not have to go down this road, but when I receive notes such as the following from the National Newspaper Association, hard decisions are certain to follow.

Postage rates change July 10 – Postage rates will rise again on July 10. Periodicals published the week of July 11 will see rates rise between 7 and 10 percent, depending upon destinations, mail preparation and rate categories.

I will be closely monitoring this situation that honestly makes my ulcer bleed as our hands are mostly tied on the matter (like most businesses) as it appears both our printing and mailing costs are going to jump heavily.

I got wind of area senior citizens complaining about a local hangout joint having to raise their food prices last week. I understand completely how folks on a fixed income would be concerned if their breakfast went from $4.99 to $5.99, or maybe even $6.50. But what does a restaurant owner do when a case of eggs that cost $9.99 six months ago is now $17.99? Now add in bacon doubling, bread up 25%, payroll increasing 1/3, etc. Very few businesses have a profit margin large enough to absorb such a hit. Obviously food prices will have to increase, it’s not a greedy business owner, its a mathematical equation. Some of those same people have rightfully fought for a “livable wage” when employed, getting every penny out of their employer, but forget that the same need applies to local small businesses that have to cover their base expenses. Their hands are tied …

I know that $2 per copy for our newspaper tends to be a bit on the higher side when looking at other newspapers for sale at local stores. However keep in mind, we average 40-60 pages while other newspapers are averaging 8-16 pages. In most cases The Village Reporter is 50 cents more despite 2, 3, 4 x the coverage. Figure out the value per page for local news, thus we are actually much cheaper than other newspapers for sale (per page). Throw in our free e-edition for subscribers along with daily news available on our website for readers, I think $2 a week is a pretty good deal (most newspapers charge for these extra services).

I hope we will not face a scenario of having to raise our prices like the above mentioned restaurant but ultimately if our printing and postage increases heavily we will have to look at either cuts (most readers do not want) or an increase to offset the difference.

Note – beyond printing and mailing increases, take a mental visual on how big the Williams and Fulton County coverage area is on a map and note how many miles we eat up providing local news at $5.25 gas prices. Just like other businesses and most personal budgets, we are closely monitoring this inflation situation.


COMMUNICATION FROM READERS:

(1) My wife and I have a gifting, to pick on one another. She say’s I’m long winded in my columns, I say I just need friends with better attention spans. One reader emailed: I have to disagree with your wife. The sometimes weekly column is my favorite part of the paper along with Looking Back at What We Read Years ago. Being a bit of a history buff I love that page, especially the weekly photo from years past. I appreciate the work you and your staff go through to bring us the paper every week. Keep up the good work!

(2) We all love a pat on the back. In this line of work, we typically only hear from the 1/10th of 1% that are mad at us. So a kind comment from a California reader who started their day reading our freshly delivered E-Edition made my day: I just finished reading this week’s online edition. I don’t have anything prophetic to share other than I felt a sense of joy after completing the entire edition. Thanks for getting my sunny California morning off to an even brighter start. Continued thanks for all you do.

(3) Ironically no hate messages delivered this week! Win! I guess now that I point this out, I should expect something to arrive in email at 2 a.m. that will make my blood boil.


YET MORE INFLATION – I wish I could drop this concern that every poll I see from various news outlets is the number one concern of Americans. I think what bothers me the most is not necessarily the prices we are seeing but that there is very little coming down the pipeline from leadership from any either party to slow down the problem.

I was screaming when COVID funds were arriving to families that nothing is “free”, we would end up paying for the massive payouts 2, 3, 4 fold. I’m convinced we are now paying for that “free money”.

Concerning a future hope / goal / idea to improve our situation. Hard times come and go, usually there is light coming down the pipeline, something to strive towards, a better day is coming in the future mindset. Current pain is replaced with eventual relief as future hope is placed with a “game plan”. I’m no economic expert but what is coming down the pipeline to improve our situation? I see next to nothing, it feels like we (the country) are sitting on our hands and hoping things will improve. I know this is not the case, but it feels like it.

How many families that received a $1,500 check during COVID have easily paid more than this on higher groceries, gas, utilities and for those with an adjustable interest rate, mortgage rate increase in the last 6-12 months? Now how much more will they pay the second half of 2022? Remember my comment above about paying back “free money” …

Stay vigilant, I’m not saying the sky is falling, I’m sure somebody will accuse me of saying so, but use wisdom readers.

Until next time …


Do you agree or disagree with, as my wife says, long winded comments? Have thoughts? Send a note if you like anytime, publisher@thevillagereporter.com.


Do you agree or disagree with, as my wife says, long winded comments? Have thoughts? Send a note if you like anytime, publisher@thevillagereporter.com.

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