Bakery says changing economy is reason behind its closure

Higher costs, labor shortages and changing consumer trends have negatively affected 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 operations 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 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. Nothing fully recovers,” Naslund said.

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

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

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

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

An attorney for the property owner, MBSS Commercial Properties LLC, did not immediately provide further information.

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Like many companies, Defiant has struggled with staffing. This has led to higher payroll costs and reduced store hours, which has 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.

He said he believes consumers are cutting spending, given the inflated cost of everyday goods and concerns of a looming 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 he has been spending more on ingredients.

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

“It all adds up,” he said.

About a year ago, Naslund said he went back to work full-time to help cover Defiant’s expenses, many of which he has been funding personally.

She considered selling the company and was recently looking for buyers, but was ultimately unable to reach a deal, she said.

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

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