PORTLAND, Maine — For almost two decades Dean's Sweets has been serving the locals and visitors of Portland, Maine, alongside the dozens of people who order online.
"My husband Dean and I started this business just about 18 years ago and we started it in our home kitchen," said Kristin Thalheimer Bingham, the co-owner of Dean's Sweets.
All these years later, they are facing the reality of inflation and many businesses like them are heading into a crucial season for business.
Bingham said about 50% of their revenue is made during the holiday season.
"The supply chain has gotten to be more of an issue recently," said Dean Bingham, the co-owner of Dean's Sweets.
"Especially in this last eight months, nine months, 2022 everything has just kind of shot up and skyrocketed," Thalheimer said. "We were taken a little bit unaware by even just a few months ago. To see that sugar has increased 10% to 15% last spring and then it increased again over the summer, same with chocolate."
That's along with other items like cocoa, butter, cardboard, packaging and shipping materials. It's all making them question if it's time to raise their prices.
"I think we're going to take another good look at it as we head into the holiday season," Thalheimer said.
They say it's not something they want to do.
Thalheimer worries a rise in prices could change that and cause people to skip purchasing that chocolate gift.
"I'm as aware as anybody else about inflation and I hate to be one of the contributors but on the other hand if all of my costs are going up I cannot afford to stay in business if I'm not recouping my costs and making a little money for myself," Dean said.
They've tried to ease the pain in other ways.
"For a long time I thought my mantra was, make more sell more and you sort of make up for the increase in price by volume but we're starting to realize that you can't do that," Dean said. "Volume has costs associated with it too because the more that you sell, the more you need to buy and the more help you need."
Buying that treat is attached to a sense of happiness they don't want to see disappear and a moment of magic they hope a rise in cost won't ruin.
"I've always felt that chocolate was one of those things that you may not buy a pound but you can buy one or two pieces and that's going to help you get through some of the stresses of the other difficult times," Dean said.
"We are always conscious of the fact that we want to be a place where people can come and get a little gift for somebody and find something nice for themselves so we want to keep it that way," said Thalheimer.