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TUSCON, Ariz. -- Shelly Little-Gibbons, co-owner and vice president of convenience store operator Quik Mart, will testify today in Washington, D.C., before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business about the hardships her company faces.
The co-owner of the family-run, Tuscon, Ariz.-based c-store chain was invited to speak by her local U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D-Second District of Arizona) as part of the 50th annual National Small Business Week.
"Owning convenience stores is a hard business," Little-Gibbons said in her written testimony. "Especially after 2008, it has become harder and tougher. Our vendors now charge us a fuel surcharge when they deliver product. Unemployment tax, workman [compensation] premiums, payroll tax, health insurance; everything, every year keeps going up while business, with so many people unemployed, keeps going down or staying the same."
Little-Gibbons also noted that the weak economy has led to more shoplifting and robberies because people are out of work and desperate.
Things will not get easier, she added. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is Quik Mart's next big expense. When it goes into effect Jan. 1, it will stipulate that employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable health insurance, or suffer a $2,000 fine per employee excluding the first 30 employees.
Quik Mart operates 33 stores. "We employ over 170 people, so either way we go, providing health insurance for our employees through the company or paying the penalty…will be a huge expense for us," Little-Gibbons said.
Rep. Barber is a former small-business owner himself and invited Little-Gibbons to testify because he wanted to focus on a homegrown business in his district that "has proven the test of time," according to a report by the Arizona Daily Star.
The average life span of a business is five years, the lawmaker concluded. "[Quik Mart] has gone way beyond that."
There are more than 28 million small businesses in America, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.