CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio has already seen its fair share of inflated prices, but the costs are only going up with the war in Russia and Ukraine hurting more small businesses.
Off West 25th Street is a pink sign that reads, Half-moon bakery. When you step in you hear Spanish speaking, smell delicious empanada and see Gerson Velsquez.
Velsquez and his wife opened their business in 2020 but closed temporarily just three months later due to the pandemic. Now, here they are two years in, they're back open and appear to be thriving, but are struggling behind closed doors because of inflation.
“In 2020 the prices didn't go up, but in 2021 the prices went up like crazy. The case of chicken used to be like 40 bucks, now it's 120 and keeps going up and up,” said Velsquez.
They rolled with the rise in costs for a while choosing not to increase their prices and instead lost money.
“We're barely making enough to pay the employees and that's something that’s a little scary,” said Velsquez.
They chose to not raise their prices because they feared it would hurt their customer base.
“Sometimes people come in here and they don't have enough money to pay for food. I feel that it's my job to help them out,” said Velsquez.
But, as inflation causes prices to triple, they have no choice but to increase the costs if they want to stay open. This is important on so many levels because while inside the bakery they're feeding their customers, outside they're also feeding the community.
“Minority-owned businesses, specifically those that are in the fabric of a neighborhood are really the lifeblood for those communities. So, again, it is instrumental for all of us, for the community to rally around these businesses,” said Janice Contreras with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Contreras sees the battles small businesses face, but she says they are amplified for minority ones specifically like Half Moon Bakery.
“We know that black and Latino businesses are undercapitalized. They don't have the same access to capital as their white counterparts. Even with programs like SBA and a lot of other governmental support,” said Contreras.
Velsquez and his wife do plan to raise their prices to be able to stay open and pay their employees but also still plan to help the community.
“I'm going to keep fighting and try to survive because that's what we've been doing the last few years with the pandemic. Now with the gas prices, We just have to try to survive,” said Velsquez.
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