Cotton candy, bubble gum, root beer and lemonade. These may sound like some of your favorite childhood treats, but bakers Stan and Nyla Wilson have taken these flavors to the
next level by combining them with another confectionary delight: the doughnut.
Since 2008, the husband-and-wife team has provided creative and family-friendly indulgences to the Vancouver area through their latest business endeavor, Dot Donuts.
Together, the Wilsons boast more than 30 years of experience in the baking industry. After selling their first two bakeries, the Wilsons sensed the changing economy and decided to open a business that they said better positioned them to ride out the storm.
“We have a product that we market directly to kids,” explained co-owner Stan Wilson. “When people cut back on their own personal expenses, they still indulge their kids. In a negative economy, people aren’t vacationing or spending lots of money on high-end products, but we have a ten-dollar treat.”
That business plan has provided Dot Donuts sustained growth despite the recession, and Wilson attributes part of his success to the extra steps he takes to outshine his competitors. By producing doughnuts fresh every day in the on-site facility, the owner said he has an advantage over grocery store chains, which all rely on frozen, pre-made doughnuts.
“One thing that makes our product unique, too, is that we were probably the first to have a non-trans-fat product in the Vancouver area,” Wilson added. “The shortening we use for frying is more expensive than the normal shortening, but it is a healthier shortening to use. It’s like potato chips or french fries – this isn’t health food by any means, but at the same time, we have an obligation to our community to not produce something that is inherently bad for you.”
That obligation to the community was also a major reason the owners chose to open Dot Donuts along 164th Avenue in Vancouver, just a mile from their home.
“We get a lot of personal gratification out of owning a business in the community that we live in, seeing our friends and neighbors as customers,” Wilson remarked.
Besides the children and families that flood the shop on weekends, Wilson said a significant number of their customers throughout the week are business professionals.
“During the week, we serve primarily business commuters,” he explained. “We really rely on that portion of our business because they buy dozens for their staff, for a meeting or for a client.”
With business customers like Riverview Community Bank, Wilson said professionals purchase from his doughnut shop specifically to enhance their work environment.
“We sell fun as much as we sell food,” the owner said. “If you want to motivate your employees, sweeten up an account or keep the family happy, our product is a really good product for that.”
As the Wilsons look toward the future of their business, they hope to expand into additional locations. For now, though, they want to keep the one retail location alive by coming up with more exciting flavors like Peaches and Cream, the current summer specialty. And while these ever-changing flavors are what make the doughnut shop stand out, Wilson said their best sellers are, ironically, the traditional doughnut staples.
“Maple bars and apple fritters are what we sell more of than anything else,” he chuckled. “Sometimes people see all the excitement and just go for the safe option.”