We observe such tourists who take out a bag of potatoes, a box of tomatoes from the trunk. Then you know there’s going to be a lot of cooking. Or they bring jars from home. I’m not surprised because people are looking for savings – says Bolesław Gołacki, who runs the fish fry and smokehouse “U Bolka” in the seaside Poddąbie, in an interview with TVN24 Biznes. In turn, the Ukrainian Juliia Vavryniuk, from the “Panda” booth with ice cream and waffles in Ustka, predicts that “it will not be too fun” this season. “People don’t know what’s ahead of them and everyone saves,” he said.
Juliia Vavryniuk, a Ukrainian, runs two “Panda” food outlets in the seaside town of Ustka with her partner. They sell Italian ice cream and waffles. Earlier, they also had a booth in Darłowo. In a moment they are opening a new confectionery with macaroons in Słupsk.
– We have been operating for six years and the mental challenge for this year is one: to withstand the uncertainty, because we do not know what to expect. This is the worst – says Vavryniuk in an interview with TVN24 Biznes.
He mentions that the best year in terms of revenue was after the lockdown, because Poles were hungry for rest and freedom. – So in 2021, but from year to year there is a very large decrease in our profit – he emphasizes.
– Earlier we saw that when the family spent time by the sea, they came for ice cream and waffles in the morning, afternoon and evening. Since last year, this picture looks different, because they buy only one ice cream, which costs one zloty more than a year ago, i.e. a small one – PLN 8, a medium one – PLN 9, and a large one – PLN 10. You have to pay PLN 7 for the cheapest waffle with powdered sugar, and PLN 20 for the most expensive one, he enumerates. He also points out that as entrepreneurs, they do not save on good products and care about quality, because “the customer sees what he pays for”.
Inflation and economic uncertainty mean that Juliia Vavryniuk predicts that this season “will not be too fun”. – People do not know what awaits them and everyone saves. No wonder.
What hits local business the most is the noticeable increase in costs running a business. – They’re incredibly tall. Last year, the first electricity bill in the season for one point was PLN 3,000, in August we already received an invoice for PLN 8,000 – he recalls.
When asked what invoices they expect this year, he replies that “we don’t know what awaits us”. He recalls that the turnover last season was high. – But there was no profit. We broke even and we were glad that we didn’t have to pay extra.
The situation of entrepreneurs has deteriorated
Klaudia Czernyhowska and her partner run “Bacio” – cafes and a booth with artisanal ice cream and waffles. There are two premises in Ustka and one in Darłówko. They have been in the catering business since 2012.
– We started 11 years ago in Ustka from the window from which we sold ice cream. There is nothing to hide: the situation for entrepreneurs has deteriorated over the years. A few years ago, you could live on what you earned in the season for the rest of the year. Now that’s not the case. We support ourselves with work in a different industry, because we run a trampoline park near Słupsk and a plant business – he tells TVN24 Biznes in an interview.
She noted that due to the economic situation in the country, customers are increasingly paying attention to the price. – There are a lot of centers for the elderly in Darłówko and there you can see caution in shopping. Tourists buy less.
You have to pay PLN 7 for a scoop of ice cream. – For the two previous years, we maintained the price of PLN 6, but unfortunately we are getting more and more invoices from suppliers. The biggest problem is the cost of electricity, but also the cost of employees due to the increase minimum wage. They account for most of the expenses. Milk, cream, sugar are the next expensive items on the list. A liter of good cream costs as much as PLN 14, and we use only high-quality raw materials – he emphasizes.
According to Klaudia Czernyhowska, the problem for catering entrepreneurs is that they cannot deduct VAT. – We buy products with zero VAT, and we sell ready-made products in the cafe at a rate of 8 to 23 percent. This means we have huge costs.
That’s why, as he explains, “there’s always a slight fear of what it will be like at the end of the month.” – It’s about the moment when you have to count how many products we sold, what costs we had and how we pay taxes, what will be left for us? And we work every day for several hours, from morning to night, we do many things ourselves. We have a great crew in production and in the cafe, but we take care of all organizational issues, for example, we go to pick up the goods. We are not afraid of work, he says.
Family business: less stress and costs
Bolesław Gołacki, together with his family, wife Zofia, daughter Anita, son-in-law Radosław and two granddaughters Natalia and Zuzanna, has been running the iconic fish fry and smokehouse “U Bolka” in Poddąbie for 15 years. They also offer rooms for rent in this seaside village between Ustka and Rowy.
– A lot has changed during this time, because the financial situation in the country is different, inflation is noticeable. In our case, the price of fish and oil increased the most. Oil costs from PLN 10 to PLN 12 per liter. I remember paying around $4 for it. A kilogram of cod fillet cost about PLN 20, and now PLN 50. Salmon went up terribly, now I pay about PLN 80 for it, and once it was around PLN 30 – he enumerates in an interview with TVN24 Biznes.
The inhabitants of Poddąbie do not have access to gas, which is why gas cylinders are used in the fry shop “U Bolka”. – A cylinder a year or two ago cost about PLN 50, now about PLN 90. We use ten of these cylinders a week – says Bolesław Gołacki.
When asked whether tourists should expect horror receipts, he explains that no, but points out that all the elements he talks about are reflected in the bills for tourists. He wants to show what the situation of entrepreneurs looks like. – Supposedly, inflation was 20 percent, but raw material prices jumped 30, 40 and even 50 percent. The government has made it possible for us to buy oil with zero VAT, but when selling a ready-made dish in a fry-room, you have to add 8 percent VAT. I do not have VAT to write off when buying, and when selling I have to pay VAT. This makes the prices for tourists rise – he explains, adding that vacationers will pay about PLN 30 for a good quality fish, without a cake with chips and salad.
– From our perspective, electricity is the most expensive. Now we have a small throughput of the frying room, because we are just starting the season, but last year, in August, I paid PLN 9.6 thousand for electricity for one month – he recalls.
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That’s why, as he says, he always feels afraid of the next season. – However, I really appreciate that we run a family business, because it already reduces stress and costs. Employee retention is now high. Also, they are hard to get. I employed Ukrainians and Poles. People from the nearby post-state farm towns do not want to work because they have socials and extras. Prosperity is created by work, not benefits. So I attract willing people to work all the way from Świętokrzyskie, where I come from – he reports.
The family of Bolesław Gołacki also runs an accommodation base. A room can be rented per night for PLN 200, a room with a kitchenette for PLN 300, and an apartment for PLN 350.
– We have 30, 40 percent occupancy for this year. Last year it was more at this time. I can see that the habits of tourists have changed. They used to come for a week or two. Now they are more likely to choose the weekend or five-day option, he notes.
She adds that more and more customers are asking about kitchenettes because they want to cook for themselves. This is how they save money. If they cook themselves, it’s cheaper for them. In turn, it is more expensive for us, because it means additional electricity, a lot of garbage and more sewage. We also observe tourists who take a bag of potatoes, a box of tomatoes from the trunk. Then you know there’s going to be a lot of cooking. Or they bring jars from home. I’m not surprised because people are looking for savings – he sums up.
Tourists save half a year to come on holiday
Jan Huruk has been a co-owner of the “Słowiniec” rehabilitation and holiday center in Poddąbie since 1995. In an interview with TVN24 Biznes, he also comments that it is harder from season to season.
– First the pandemic, then war in Ukraineprice jumps of all products, manipulation of those in power energy prices. All these elements affect our business, because during the summer season, we set prices for the next year. With such uncertainty, even in energy prices, it is very difficult, and we have to provide customers with everything: from accommodation, rehabilitation and treatments, to meals and animations – he says, adding that their youngest customer was 5 years old, and the oldest 94.
The prices of which products have increased the most? – Vegetables jumped about 40 percent, but also seaside water and sewage prices are very high, they amount to PLN 13.60 per cubic meter. It’s more than in the city.
To reduce electricity bills, the owners of the resort invested about PLN 260,000 in photovoltaics. – If we had not done this, we would pay PLN 30,000 for electricity today, not PLN 15,000 – explains Jan Huruk.
It states that the cost of accommodation ranges from PLN 2,000 to PLN 3,200 for two weeks. Prices vary depending on whether the client chooses a log cabin or a resort room. – Poles are looking for savings and ask if they can buy accommodation without meals, and our offer always includes three meals a day – he explains.
– We mainly have regular customers who appreciate the quality, level and comprehensiveness of our services. I also know people who save half a year to come on vacation. Tourist voucher didn’t turn out to be a bull’s-eye, didn’t help us because combinations started. People asked directly if they could exchange it for cash – he recalls.
In his opinion, “running a tourist business is complicated, even getting a bank loan is difficult because it is expensive.” That is why “such a business should be family”. – That’s when labor costs fall especially, because who has so much money to employ a lot of people? In the current economic reality, it is really hard to generate profit in our industry – he sums up in an interview with TVN24 Biznes.
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