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How rising gas prices could impact boat shops this holiday weekend

Hundreds are heading to the lake to celebrate the Fourth of July, but rising fuel costs are impacting boat rental shops and could change how Arkansans celebrate.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — This Independence Day weekend, hundreds are heading to the lake to celebrate the holiday.

The price of fuel, like nearly everything else, has increased.

According to AAA, Arkansans are paying an average of $4.38 per gallon as they hit the highway for the holiday.

Meanwhile on the lake, boaters are also dealing with these above average fuel prices.

"Last year at this time, we were $4.20 a gallon, this year we are $5.95," said Zach Roberts, manager of Kahuna Bay Boat Rentals.

He said this time of year is usually one of the busiest, but the increase in fuel prices is impacting that traffic of customers.

"We've had less business," said Roberts.

He said the before the uptick, the only price that renters would pay is the hourly flat rate.

Now, since the boat rental spot is having to dish out more money, customers now have to pay for their own fuel.

"We just can't afford to keep people's gas for them and such," Roberts said.

Hot Springs Marina owner Gabe Galster said the start of the summer season for him was slower than usual.

"The shock of the fuel prices, I think did have an effect on people," Galster said.

He said all 23 rental boats are booked through the weekend.

Something to keep in mind is that people normally get 50 gallons of marine fuel, but now he said people are only putting about 20-25 gallons in their tank this year. 

"They are hanging out [and] more float and drift and having a good time that way, rather than just running up and down the lake," Galser said.

Marine fuel, he said, costs more than gas from a standard pump.

"We have a lot of maintenance with our pumps being on the water that we have to incur," Galster said. 

That is why both of them made adjustments to keep the price as affordable as possible for customers.

Roberts said he is just happy people are not letting the price stop them from coming to rent a boat.

"We know that people want to go out in the lake and we are not going to try to take that time away from them. We want them to enjoy this summer as much as they possibly can," Roberts said.

Both businesses said they are still doing fairly well despite gas prices.

Galster said he is seeing an increase in paddleboard and kayak rentals.

That's another way that people are trying to have fun but save money, according to Galster. 

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