'Extremely frustrating': Inflation creates stress in Wichita food desert
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The co-owner of a Wichita convenience and grocery store in Northeast Wichita says inflation has impacted her business as she does her part to make sure that Kansans with a lack of grocery options have an alternative in her community.
Dr. Sandra Watie spoke with KAKE News Tuesday, more than a year after our crews initially visited her store, Shakey Jake's, where she says actively works to help the vulnerable Wichita community she knows so well.
Last year, Save-A-Lot announced it was closing its doors at its 13th & Hillside location, leaving a large portion of the NE Wichita community it was based in, without nearby food options.
"Our community needs to eat now, because we are, as you know, a food desert," said Watie. "And in a food desert there's no food around, there's no fresh goods for anyone."
In 2021 Watie told KAKE's John Hayes that the area is desperately in need of a replacement store. This year, she said the issue remains but she is doing her part to alleviate the issues with her own store. However, Watie said that what's been a big problem she's struggling with for the past several months is the rising cost of food.
"You're gonna pay more so then we have to raise our prices up and that's not really fair to the customers," said Watie. "Prices can go up two or three times a month on one item."
Watie said she's done her best to keep her stores fridges and freezers stacked with various food options, but that supply chain issues have also impacted those efforts.
"We're trying to find different suppliers to be able to get the things that the community needs in here," said Watie. "And for that, it really is extremely frustrating."
Despite the latest national reports showing that inflation is trending down, Watie said its impact on food not only hurts her small business but the community as well.
KAKE News spoke with Wichita State University Economics expert Jeremy Hill Tuesday, who shared more insight on what could happen in the coming months.
"I think from here all the way through December, I don't think foods gonna come down," said Hill. "Really much more than it already had come down."
Hill predicts that inflation will continue to come down slowly, but not nearly as quickly as some might hope thanks to supply chain issues.
Watie said she plans to operate as effectively as she can, while she can, and doesn't plan on giving up on her business any time soon.
If you'd like to learn more about Shakey Jake's, click here.