Higher costs, labor shortages and changing consumer trends have negatively affected the Defiant Cookie Dough Company in recent months.
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Defiant Cookie Dough Company, a Chesterfield-based cookie dough and dessert bakery, will close permanently after its last day of operation Wednesday.
“It’s 100% because of the economy,” said Jennifer Naslund, the company’s founder and owner. She said higher costs, labor shortages and changing consumer trends have all negatively affected the company’s operations in recent months.
“All these small businesses survived COVID, but we can’t survive after COVID. All our expenses have doubled, but our sales have not doubled. Nothing is fully recovered,” said Naslund.
The company will also suspend its wholesale operations, which distribute its cookie dough 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 downtime and abandonment, Naslund said.
Naslund said in 2017 she signed a five-year lease for her brick-and-mortar store, located at 17409 Chesterfield Airport Road, for $2,000 a month. In those five years, the rent increased 25% to $2,500 a month, and, when she was given the chance to renew, the rent jumped to $3,500 a 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 owner, MBSS Commercial Properties LLC, did not immediately provide further information.
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Like many businesses, Defiant had staffing problems. That led to higher wage costs and reduced store hours, which further reduced profits, Naslund said.
Consumer spending habits have also changed.
“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 she thinks consumers are cutting back on their spending, due to the inflated cost of everyday products and concerns of a looming recession.
And consumers are not the only ones facing higher prices. Besides having to spend more to cover wages and rent, Naslund said she has been spending more on ingredients.
The company uses heat-treated flour in its cookie dough, Naslund said. That product has been discontinued, so Naslund said she now has to pick up a similar product from Chicago, where it costs $46 per bag, down from the $26 she used to pay.
“Everything just adds up,” she said.
About a year ago, Naslund said she started working full-time again to help cover Defiant’s expenses, most of which she has been funding personally.
She considered selling the company and was recently looking for buyers but ultimately couldn’t reach a deal, she said.
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