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For this Maine chocolatier, labor is the “No. 1 cost to stay competitive”

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Chocolate "bombs" being prepared at Dean's Sweets in Portland, ME.

Chocolate "bombs" being prepared at Dean's Sweets in Portland, Maine. Kaitlin Toto Photography

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Costs are up across the board at Dean’s Sweets, a chocolate business in Portland, Maine. “Our cost of shipping has increased,” said co-owner Kristin Thalheimer Bingham. “Chocolate prices, organic cream, butter.”

But for Thalheimer Bingham, labor is the No. 1 cost. “Around here, prices for housing and food and just basic living expenses [have] shot up significantly,” she said. “So, in discussions with a few of our team members, they let us know that in order to keep our business functioning, we needed to increase wages.”

Prices increased 9.1% for the year ending in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the New England region, inflation was 8.9%, slightly less than the national rate.

“It was really a very humbling moment,” Thalheimer Bingham said. “And we very quickly adjusted and felt that it was completely the right decision.”

To hear Thalheimer Bingham’s story, use the media player above.

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