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Utah small businesses close due to economic pressures

Utah small businesses close due to economic pressures (Photo: Cristina Flores/ KUTV)
Utah small businesses close due to economic pressures (Photo: Cristina Flores/ KUTV)
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Many small, independent business owners in Utah are feeling the pressure of an economy where workers are hard to find and the cost of doing business is sky-high because of inflation.

Given those pressures, some local businesses that enjoyed success for years are now closing their doors.

Brownies! Brownies! Brownies! in Salt Lake closed it's doors after nearly five years in operation. Les Madeleines, a Salt Lake Bakery also closed its doors at the end of 2022 after 19 years in business.

"I just couldn't do it anymore," said Romina Rasmussen, owner of Les Madeleines.

Rasumussen, whose bakery sold handmade, French pastries including the crowd favorite Kouign-amann, said working 15-18 hours per day, seven days a week with a staff shortage, was no longer a sustainable way to operate her business.

Many of her employees required training and teaching.

She had recently posted a job online and 14 people applied - none from the United States.

"So, I made a really tough choice to close my shop after 19 years but I'm really proud of what I did," she said.

A few miles east of Rasmussen's shop, Molly Kohrman, owner of Brownies! Brownies! Brownies! closed her shop after feeling the same kind of exhaustion.

Like Rasmussen, since the pandemic Kohrman reinvented her business several times to survive the economic challenges but the impact of inflation was the last straw.

When supplies like eggs and chocolate shot up in price or were harder to find, things became difficult. She refused to raise her prices and make her brownies unaffordable.

When fall came and the usual surge in holiday sales did not happen, things became clear for her. She had to close her doors.

"It just got to a point where I couldn't continue to fight the writing on the wall," said Kohrman.

Her brownie shop was a dream come true. She loved serving the community and helping local charities and even school children who made requests for donations.

Local businesses she said, are the ones who offer that unique support in a community.

She worries for other small, independent business owners who are working hard to keep their businesses alive.

"Probably 90 percent of small businesses that you know are struggling right now. If not all of them," she said.

Kohrman said she'll continue to bake small orders from her home but doesn't know what she'll do long-term.

Rasmussen said she'll take some time to "breathe" and rest and already has plans to open another food business with partners in late 2022.

Her new business will sell dumplings. It will be a smaller space with a smaller menu.

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In her new venture, she's rely on some automation to help fewer workers to make the dumplings.

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