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A large issue for small business.

Being involved in several small businesses, Tara Elston, was keen to understand how inflation is affecting businesses at the heart of our community.

Mar 22, 2023

Words: Tara Elston
Images: Tara Elston

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Since the pandemic, prices of products in a range of industries have continued to increase, causing financial issues for communities, businesses, organisations and individuals. While we have all likely experienced the frustrating climb of bills, the almost ridiculous prices of grocery items and the ever-changing digits on the fuel boards, we may be missing how inflation has affected those within our community operating a small business.

Working at two small businesses and seeing family friends running their own, I have come to understand just how difficult running a business is and the strain inflation has caused on their dreams and livelihoods.

I am a big believer in going and doing, making your ideas come to life, and seeing so many small businesses close over the last few years has really shown me how hard it is at this time for people to create and maintain these dreams. I got to speak to the owners of a few of the small businesses at the heart of our community about how inflation has affected them.

...Seeing so many small businesses close over the last few years has really shown me how hard it is at this time for people to create and maintain these dreams.

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Flowers by Rhi was opened in 2014, before being handed over to Fiona and Bell Cheney in 2020. The mother–daughter duo supply both high-quality flower bouquets and arrangements as well as thoughtful gifts for any occasion.

This small business has felt the effects of inflation on the demand for their products. The owners have noticed that, due to the cost-of-living crisis, consumers are cutting back on perishable items such as flowers – especially those of higher quality – to budget for the essentials.

To overcome this challenge and best support customers and the community during this time, Fiona and Bell source their products locally and look for great deals from their wholesalers. Above all, those at Flowers by Rhi cherish their impeccable customer service. “Customer service is the main focus of any small business,” Fiona emphasises – advising those looking to open their own small business to think carefully about their customer base and to make customers their priority.

While inflation can cause obstacles, the wonderful owners of this small business have tackled this challenge head-on, using it as a teachable moment. Inflation has taught them how to better plan for incoming bills and invoices, as well as how to adapt to changes in demand and product availability.

4/26 Shakespeare Street,Traralgon

T. 0449 292 933


Dyoligy is a small business providing Traralgon with spiritual materials and fulfilling their therapeutic needs for 19 years. Owner Dy Bonacci has connected customers with the spiritual community, offering services such as kinesiology, tarot readings, reiki, hypnotherapy massages and more.

As a result of the increasing inflation and the strain it has put on financial dispositions, Dy and the staff at Dyoligy have experienced a surge in thefts, leaving the business out of pocket for these products. This behaviour has forced them to invest in new security cameras and extra staff to ensure their shelves stay protected and stocked for customers.

The environment of this location is relaxed and tranquil, always welcoming members of the community as well as visitors. Despite their difficulties while we are all feeling the effects of inflation, the lovely staff at Dyoligy remind us of karma and that what goes around comes around – both positive and negative.

Opening and operating a small business comes with many challenges, especially in these times of financial uncertainty; however, passion is always a reason to keep going. “If you have the passion, anything is possible,” Dy affirms.

1 Post Office Pl,Traralgon

T. 5174 7576


Zio’s Pizzeria has been operating for over 20 years, keeping the same loved quality as the business has grown and evolved. Cooked with a rotating stone oven, Zio’s pizzas are cooked with love and flavour in mind.

The business changed hands pre-pandemic and the new owner Brendan Thorburn has been exposed to ever-rising stock prices since taking over. Brendan has dedicated his time to the shop, taking on extra hours to reduce wage prices, and has focused on budgeting more efficiently to overcome the fluctuating prices and percentage increases while keeping the food quality consistently high.

In the future, Zio’s intends to be a sit-down restaurant, continuing to serve premium quality meals as well as a premium quality experience. As inflation continues to be a major factor, this continued budgeting and dedication is essential to Brendan’s dream being achieved.

40 George Street,


T. 5133 9994

Gippslandia - Issue No. 30

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