The Easter holiday is one of the biggest holidays for chocolate. However, 2022 is one of the worst years for chocolatiers and small businesses.
“Before COVID, we were thriving,” said a smiling Chef Dayleen Coleman inside her D’Liteful Chocolat kitchen in San Marcos. "We had an abundance of employees, happy staff."
Coleman said they felt good as the pandemic waned, but 2022 brought new challenges that have crippled her business. Inflation has jumped 8.5% in the last year.
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Coleman said it costs her at least 30% more to run her business, listing increased costs for ingredients, supplies, shipping, gas, utilities and labor.
“I think I clock about 105 hours in a week as a business owner because I’m understaffed,” Coleman said, sighing. “It’s not a very happy time right now for some small businesses.”
Coleman said she’s done her best to stay competitive with employee salaries. Also, she's now paying for deliveries that used to be free. She can’t raise her prices 30% to match the rise in the cost of doing business, though, because she fears scaring away her customers.
“I want my employees to make a living wage; I just can’t keep up with California’s living wage,” a shrugging Coleman said. “It’s not sustainable. It’s breaking me down as a business owner.”
Coleman said she isn’t the type of person to dwell on the negative, though, and that she's hoping for better days ahead.
“If I were to stop, who’s going to make [chocolates] these for people?” she said.