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Gas, groceries and no room for mistakes – Americans are feeling inflation

KELSEY SNELL, HOST:

Many Americans are feeling the strain of inflation. It's at a 30-year high. And prices for all kinds of goods are surging. We reached out to people across the country to hear exactly how inflation is affecting them.

ASHLEY ROUSE: It's killing us.

SNELL: That's Ashley Rouse, who owns a small jam business called Trade Street Jam Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y.

ROUSE: Jars are double the cost for that same jar. You know, it used to be maybe 30 to 60 cents - can now be over a dollar, which is just absurd because that goes all into your cost of goods.

SNELL: To cope, Rouse is cutting back on advertising. But she worries it will keep her from attracting new customers.

Rick McLaughlin, owner of Big Time Brewery and Alehouse in Seattle, Wash., says the price hikes mean his company's margin for making mistakes is now zero - no burning bacon in the kitchen, no screwing up a batch of beer.

RICK MCLAUGHLIN: Everything has to be perfect in order for us to essentially break even or make, you know, just a little bit of money.

SNELL: He says he'll have to raise prices eventually, but he plans to do it incrementally over time.

MCLAUGHLIN: Small business owners like myself - you know, I have personal relationships with most people that walk in through my door. And you don't want to essentially push them away by pricing them out of your establishment.

SNELL: For Amy Meblin in Greenfield, Mass., inflation has her especially worried about her food bill.

AMY MEBLIN: I think it's intensified my caution about what I buy at the grocery store. Right now, we don't have income other than Social Security, and it's pretty tight. It's scary because we're really old and we really need to make more money, so I don't have to keep working, you know, until I'm 95, although I know that I might have to.

SNELL: Added to the high cost of food and gas, she's also facing the high cost of rent. The rental home she lives in is being sold. And she's nervous about finding another affordable option in her small town. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.