Mary Leonard has owned and operated Chocolat Celeste for the past 19 years, offering artisan chocolates both online and at her retail location on Transfer Road. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, business was good. Very good. Fresh, high-quality chocolate was a comfort food in high demand as people sheltered in place.
Fast forward to June 2020 and demand dropped significantly. Leonard noticed a direct correlation between people going out more and buying chocolate less. In fact, Leonard reports a 60 percent drop in sales in June alone.
Port Authority Small Business Loan
Not knowing how long the pandemic would last, Leonard took advantage of the Port Authority’s Small Business Loan. The $50,000 loan, with a two-percent interest rate, helped Leonard get her business back on stable ground.
“The loan allowed me to survive a summer that I wouldn’t have been able to survive.” -Mary Leonard, Chocolate Celeste Owner
With the loan, Leonard paid off higher-cost debt including credit cards and loans. Additional proceeds are helping her invest in the dot-com side of the business, which has been her dream from the beginning.