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Consumers and restaurants in Billings struggle with inflation



Billings, Montana – Due to growing transportation costs, product shortages, and a peak in inflation, supermarket shopping is becoming more expensive.

All of that is trickling down to customers and neighborhood restaurants, who are battling to combine increased costs with rising customer demands.

The owner of Topz Sandwich Company Tucker Veltkamp relies heavily on the Billings neighborhood.

“I feel grateful that the community has supported us enough to grow. We do have sales volume,” said Veltkamp on Wednesday.

But the previous year has presented his business with difficulties he never anticipated.

“I would go out and say that this has been the most difficult year and a half period that I’ve dealt with in business,” Veltkamp said.

In addition to coping with goods shortages, Veltkamp must now pay more due to inflation if and when he can buy his items.

“For instance, chicken this summer went from $70 a case to $150 a case,” said Veltkamp.

Finding poultry and eggs has become impossible due to the avian flu outbreak this year for both restaurant owners and customers.

For the first time in seven years, according to Veltkamp, he had no choice but to increase his pricing.

“We raised prices once in November, and then a second and third time this year,” Veltkamp said.

However, some people have been able to gain from the egg issue while giving back to the neighborhood. On their farm in the West End, Mike Hovland and his wife keep hens.

“We cannot keep up with the demand,” said Hovland.

When customers purchase their organic eggs from the Hovlands, they save money.

“One gentleman was telling me, I think for organic eggs, a dozen of them, he paid $5.60 I believe and that was early December,” Hovland said.

Back at Topz, Veltkamp is experimenting with cost-cutting measures to offset growing food prices without compromising the caliber of the meals he serves.

“Just cutting some little expenses out ‘cuz we don’t want to pass everything on to the customer. Those are our people and we’re only here because of them,” Veltkamp said.

Additionally, his clients appear to value it.

“If you can support your local people, do. Why not? I mean, your money goes to the person you know,” said customer Tom Heidle.


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