Gas, hurricanes cause problems for produce retailers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gas, hurricanes cause problems for produce retailers

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September 27, 2005

Albany- Lora Jean's Produce has been like a gold mind for customers looking for fresh produce since it opened in May.

"I buy a lot of stuff from this place, and all of it's good. I have to tell the truth. Everything you see out here I've bought some of it," says Susie Williams.

Seventy-seven year old Williams makes a special trip to the produce stand at least twice a week, but it will close October 1st, forcing her and others to shop somewhere else.

"We were going to try to go all year round but we're just making ends meet right now and paying rent. It's hitting us hard. It's disappointing for us. Everything has doubled in price just since last week," says owner Lora Kearce.

Kearce says a lot of their produce this time of year comes from Tennessee.

"Tennessee's been hit with cooler weather and rain from the hurricane and now their prices are going up," she explains.

A large portion also comes from California, and gas prices are making getting it to Georgia a lot more expensive. For example, a semi-truck filled with cabbage used to cost $1,500.

"Now its $4,000, so they're wanting $30 for a case of cabbage, tripled in price," Kearce says.

So, instead of passing the price increase on to customers like Williams, Kearce will close up shop until April.

"If the good Lord let's me live I'll be back," Williams says.

"We'll be back next year, hopefully for a new year," Kearce says.

Lora Jean's owners say Mississippi sweet potatoes are the only products they sell whose quality has been effected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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