SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — With national gas prices reaching $5 a gallon, small business owners are looking at how this could affect their customer base.

Amber Brand and her husband are both self-employed. Brand owns a women’s clothing boutique called Clay Street Boutique in Marshfield.

“My boutique is a very body-positive and women-empowering boutique,” said Brand.

Brand said Clay Street Boutique has an emphasis on community, being very close with her customers.

“We have a really strong group of women that care about each other,” said Brand. “Of course when something like this happens, my first thought isn’t how is this going to affect my business but more how is it going to affect my customers.”

Brand said she works on being creative and thinking outside the box so she can still meet the needs of her customers.

“For example, we did an event a couple of weeks ago for pride where we offered hair braiding,” said Brand.

The hair extensions were only $12 and the braiding cost customers $8. She said it was an inexpensive way to engage with customers that wouldn’t cost a large amount of money.

“My customers who took advantage of that left feeling like 100 bucks,” said Brand. “They had their hair on all weekend and were taking selfies and posting. [We’re] still being able to see them and still being able to make them feel good without breaking their bank.”

Brand said what makes small businesses like hers different from bigger businesses is the greater connection they have with the community.

“I’m living the same life that you are,” said Brand. “My kids freaked out today and we were all fighting. I feel you sister.”

With inflation on the rise, Brand has had to stay conscious of not only her spending for her business but also making smart decisions when it comes to her family.

“My husband does concrete which, he has a whole lot more expense than I do,” said Brand. “He drives a big truck so that he can pull trailers and equipment. His fuel expense is through the roof. He has a diesel truck. He filled up yesterday and it cost him $200.”

With three boys, Brand has to make decisions on the families eating habits. She makes sure there isn’t a lot of snacking throughout the day.

“Make sure when you are eating you are only making what you are planning to eat instead of pouring the whole 70-piece bag of chicken nuggets into the air fryer,” said Brand.

She said she also makes sure her children are not feeling the pressure and stress the rise in inflation has caused.

“My oldest is 12 and he doesn’t need to know how things are,” said Brand. “It’s just being cautious, making a budget, and sticking to that budget.”

Brand suggested if you are a small business owner and are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to other small business owners.

“Number one they are going to be the people who understand you the most,” said Brand. “Also work together. I am a big believer that even if the business down the road is my competitor if we try to work together it’s going to make both of us better.”