The donut shop industry in the U.S. is thriving with current annual revenue of $14 billion, reports  IBIS World. But it’s not just major chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Hortons serving up plain glazed and jelly-filled treats.
A new breed of artisan shops that offer specialty donuts topped with everything from candied bacon to cereal are making their way into markets across the country.
If you want to build a business that’s a part of this growing trend, you’ll need a few key things to get started. Here’s a quick guide on how to open an artisan donut shop.
How to Open a Donut Shop that Sells Artisan Donuts
Secure Enough Space
Artisan donut shops can take many different forms. You can have a small location where customers order and then take their donuts to go. Or you can design a larger space with plenty of tables and chairs so that people can enjoy their handmade confections at your location. But you’ll likely need at least 500 square feet so that you’ll have enough space to set up all your equipment and a check out and display area.
Choose the Right Location
You’ll also need to find that space in a good location. As with any business, finding a high traffic location can help you bring in customers. But more specifically, artisan donut shops tend to be popular in big cities, college towns or locations with a lot of young, hip consumers. So research the customer base in the location you’re considering and then choose an exact spot accordingly.
Get Your Equipment
For any donut shop, you’ll need fryers and preferably a gas supply to the building. You may also need a commercial oven and some other specialty pieces of equipment. The exact items you’ll need may vary depending on your specialty items.
Develop Your Menu
The whole point of an artisan donut shop is to offer donuts that are different than what you’d find at any old coffee shop. So when you create your menu, think about what items you can offer that will help your business stand out. You might offer some options that have interesting toppings or flavor combinations. But you can also offer a few of the basics just to satisfy less adventurous customers who just want a quality donut.
Once you’ve decided on a menu, you’ll need to find suppliers who can provide the ingredients you need to create those items. Shop around and compare prices. And find suppliers who can provide enough ingredients on a regular basis to keep up with demand.
Research the Competition
Artisan donut shops are relatively new in a lot of markets. But you still might run into some competition when starting up. So before committing to a location or a menu, you might want to do some research on other donut shops in the area so you can be sure you’re not just offering something that customers can already find around the corner. Depending on what you discover, it might be beneficial to find a different location or just change up your menu a bit so that you’re offering something different.
Obtain Necessary Permits
Any business that sells food will need to obtain permits and go through health inspections in order to open. The actual process will vary based on your location. So check with your state and local governments to see what is required and then be prepared for multiple inspections and permits throughout the process of starting and running your business.
Train Your Employees
To make sure that all of your artisan donuts are high quality and unique, you need to make sure that all of your employees have a good understanding of what is required. That means you’ll need to put in a little more time training than you would if you were just showing people how to throw some glazed donuts into a bag and collect money from customers. You may even need to hire professional bakers or send your employees to specialized training.
Design Your Store
The look of your store is also important if you want to attract the right customers. Come up with a design concept that fits with your brand and your menu. And make sure it’s something that’s unique enough to stand out to your ideal customers. That could mean coming up with a cool way to display your donuts, creating interesting signage or even just putting up cool artwork around your space.
Market Your Business
Then you just need to market your business to get customers through the door. If you’re marketing to young customers, it may be necessary to set up a presence on social media . Or you could even host some cool events to bring customers through the door.
Donuts  Photo via Shutterstock