I first met Jon Piwowarczyk when we were "patrol boys" at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in New Bedford in the late 1960s. Patrol boys wore orange belts and held red flags with the word "STOP" in white in the center as we bravely stepped in front of traffic on Ashley Boulevard to allow our classmates and teachers to cross safely.

We also served as hall monitors and stood in the stairwells as students scurried up and down the flights of stairs on their way in and out of the ancient brick school building.

The old Lincoln School is long gone, but Piwowarczyk and I go on. One might think our early brush with such heady authority would lead us to careers in law enforcement – maybe even the FBI.

Piwowarczyk went on to a career in finance and I became a famous radio star (ahem).

New Bedford Cookie Maker Feeling The Squeeze Of Inflation
Courtesy Mad Good Cookie Company
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I'm still on the radio, but Piwowarczyk ditched his career in finance to launch his own business baking and selling cookies.

Piwowarczyk founded Mad Good Cookie Company in New Bedford in 2012. He created the recipes and marketed his creations and continues to do so today. Jon's Mad Good Cookies were first available at the Farmer's Market in Padanaram and then at a kiosk at the Dartmouth Mall. He opened a seasonal kiosk at the Seastreak Terminal on New Bedford's State Pier in 2014.

Piwowarczyk rents space from D&D Caterers Inc. on Ashley Boulevard, where he bakes his Mad Good Cookies. During the winter months, most of his cookie sales are completed online or by phone.

New Bedford Cookie Maker Feeling The Squeeze Of Inflation
Courtesy Mad Good Cookie Company
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New Bedford Cookie Maker Feeling The Squeeze Of Inflation
Courtesy Mad Good Cookie Company
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"Fortunately, I'm very busy," Piwowarczyk said. The holidays are coming, and there will be many orders for Mad Good Cookies to fill – but inflation is taking a bite out of Jon's business.

"I have to work harder to make money because I can't pass on my increased costs of eggs, which have doubled, and on butter and flour, which are up 50 percent," he said.

New Bedford Cookie Maker Feeling The Squeeze Of Inflation
Courtesy Mad Good Cookie Company
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"I have had trouble getting Oreos and sometimes the chocolate I use due to the various supply chain issues," Piwowarczyk said. "My flour is sourced domestically versus from Ukraine. I'm not sure they are doing much planting over there, so I will be curious to see what happens to supply and price then."

It's not just rising costs and supply chain issues that are impacting small businesses. Piwowarczyk said credit card fees have changed.

"Before the pandemic, I would be charged three to four percent of the transaction. Now they add a 19-cent fee on top of the percentage," he said.

Piwowarczyk's story is similar to the experiences of many small business people facing rising costs, supply shortages, and other challenges just to remain in business.

This is how important it is to shop local, especially now.

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