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'It’s 100% because of the economy': Bakery owner says changing landscape is part of why she's closing

Higher costs, labor shortages and changing consumer trends have negatively affected the Defiant Cookie Dough Company in recent months.
Credit: Defiant Dough
Defiant Cookie Dough Company will close Wednesday

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Defiant Cookie Dough Company, a Chesterfield-based cookie dough and desserts bakery, will permanently close following its final day of operations Wednesday.

“It’s 100% because of the economy,” Jennifer Naslund, the company’s founder and owner, said. She said higher costs, labor shortages and changing consumer trends have all negatively affected the company’s operations in recent months.

“All these little businesses survived COVID, but we can’t survive post-COVID. All of our expenses have doubled, but our sales haven’t. Nothing is fully recovered,” Naslund said.

The company will also suspend its wholesale operations, which distribute its cookie doughs to grocery stores, including Schnucks and Dierbergs, in and around the state.

Founded in 2017 as Half Baked Cookie Dough Company, the company was rebranded in early 2020 due to a cease and desist, Naslund said.

Naslund said that in 2017 she signed a five-year lease for its brick-and-mortar store, located at 17409 Chesterfield Airport Road, at $2,000 per month. In those five years, rent increased 25% to $2,500 per month, and, when given the chance to renew, rent jumped to $3,500 per month, she said.

Earlier this year, the company decided to pay $4,000 a month for a much larger storefront, two doors down in the same strip mall.

An attorney for the property's owner, MBSS Commercial Properties LLC, didn't immediately provide more information.

RELATED: Special commission moves multimillion-dollar Chesterfield development plan forward

Like many businesses, Defiant has had trouble with staffing. This has led to higher payroll costs and reduced store hours, which have further dampened profits, Naslund said.

Consumer spending habits have changed as well.

“We went from making $3,000 on a Saturday before COVID, to not even making $1,500 in a week recently,” Naslund said.

She said that she thinks consumers are cutting their spending, given the inflated cost of everyday goods and worries of an impending recession.

And consumers aren’t the only ones facing higher prices. In addition to having to spend more to cover payroll and rent, Naslund said she’s been spending more on ingredients.

The company uses heat-treated flour in its cookie doughs, Naslund said. That product was discontinued, so Naslund said she must now pick up a similar product from Chicago, where it costs $46 per bag, up from the $26 she was paying previously.

“It all just adds up,” she said.

About a year ago, Naslund said she went back to working full time to help cover Defiant’s expenses, many of which she has been personally financing.

She considered selling the company and was recently looking for buyers but ultimately wasn't able to reach any deals, she said.

Click here to read the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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