Chocolate shop has plenty of business but not enough staff

Cecilia Nysing

Business is booming at Dean’s Sweets, a chocolate shop in Portland, Maine. According to Yelp’s quarterly business report, consumer interest has picked up overall in Maine this summer. But, as Dean’s Sweets co-owner Kristin Thalheimer Bingham describes, being busy also means trying to find extra help in a labor market where everyone is hiring.

We’ve had kind of crazy growth just in the past six weeks. We’ve gotten through it, but we need more people to help with customers, more people to help make the chocolate, more people to help tie little pretty ribbons on boxes. Everybody’s hiring right now, and so it’s a really tight market for that. There’s a really wonderful coffee shop nearby, and they’re looking to hire, you know, three people. And down the street, there’s a wonderful women’s clothing store, and they’re looking to hire two people. So there’s a lot of demand out there right now for good people.

I’m definitely concerned about keeping the people we currently have. We try to pay them as best as we can, and we try to give them benefits. I try to kind of read between the lines whether somebody is feeling a little antsy, and I haven’t seen that, thankfully. I kind of pay attention to it. And you know, knock on wood many times over that right now the folks that we’ve had for many years are still happy and interested in the job and interested in staying with us. So I hope that continues.

We do think about our busy season, which is coming right up. August is a very busy month here in Portland, Maine. And then September, even more so with people traveling through New England, and then it’s straight into the holidays. And we need to prepare as much as we possibly can now so that we’re ready. I can tell by what’s been happening recently that it’s going to be a much bigger year for us than either 2020 or 2019. So the more that we’re ready and prepared now, the more we’ll be able to do with a little bit less stress, I hope.

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