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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 28, 2014, 06:47 PM

Small business owners feel the effects of higher propane prices

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -The Governors of both North Dakota and Minnesota have declared propane related emergencies after a nationwide shortage sends prices soaring to their highest levels yet.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -The Governors of both North Dakota and Minnesota have declared propane related emergencies after a nationwide shortage sends prices soaring to their highest levels yet.

In parts of the Midwest, propane prices have doubled in only a week with some now topping $6 a gallon.

Richard Branstrom, Osage Bait and Tackle manager: “I can't believe it. It's ridiculous.”

Sitting in the heart of Osage, Minn. lies a small town, one stop shop where if you drop by over the noon hour.

Kimberly Branstrom, Osage resident: “That's the big talk.”

A problem with propane prices looms well beyond lunchtime.

Richard Branstrom: “Well I do a lot of the number crunching and it's been slow. That's why we had to do all of the cutbacks.”

In just two weeks, propane prices in the Midwest have jumped more than 250 percent.

Tim Ulvin, Osage resident: “Myself personally, I just filled my propane tank and I paid twice as much as I did last year.”

People in town are paying about $6 a gallon causing owners of Osage Bait and Tackle to cut back on staff and cancel orders.

Richard Branstrom: “We can't get anything new in until we start making more money.”

Even stop serving breakfast.

Kimberly Branstrom: “No one is going to want to come and eat anymore because they can't afford it.”

Ulvin: “Less disposable income.”

And unlike many customers sitting behind the bar, these family owners don't need it for too much.

Kimberly Branstrom: “We use it for our fryers, our grill.”

This is what's costing them the big bucks- about $900 more a month, compared to last year, and it doesn't even keep the customers warm. For that, they have something else.

Richard Branstrom: “That's why we switched over to wood because it was more affordable.”

They put in this wood burning furnace to cut back on costs and try to save their business.

Kimberly Branstrom: “It's scary, kind of sad.”

Now fearing just how bad prices will get.

Richard Branstrom: “It probably will get worse a little bit. Then hopefully it will go back down. It has to.”

Ulvin: “It's going to affect everything on a large scale. Less money to spend means less money for everybody.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, propane reserves are down to 10.2 million barrels.

That's the lowest level in January in at least 20 years.

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