I sometimes get obsessed with the strangest things. Since I’ve been living in north Texas I’m flabbergasted by the lack of differentiation within the donut shop segment. No doubt I am the only one who has a hang up on this particular topic.
Did you know there are 3800 donut places in Dallas-Fort Worth? Not really, I made that up. I’ll bet you a couple of Bear Claws I’m pretty darn close. They are everywhere. I swear you can’t drive more than a couple of blocks and bingo – DONUTS! I get it. It’s like that for many shops and stores in and around Dallas. In case you haven’t checked there are 7.1 million people living in what they refer to as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. For the uninformed, the term “Metroplex” is not even a legit word. (Fun Fact) In 1971, when DFW Airport was under construction, the members of the North Texas Commission were looking for ways to promote the region. There was an ad guy on the commission named Harve Chapman. Good ole Harve said, “Why don’t we refer to the Dallas Fort Worth area as The Metroplex?” His compadres gave it a thumbs up and the term has somehow survived the test of time. It means absolutely nothing! Back to the topic at hand… If there are close to 3800 donut shops in this area that’s approximately 1 per every 1868 people. Okay my estimate may be a little rich. The point is there are lots of them.
Being a marketing hack from way back, here’s what perplexes me. Nine out of ten of these places display a single moniker – DONUTS. That’s it. It’s almost like they were in a hurry to open and didn’t bother to come up with a name like Joe’s Donuts or Tasty Donuts or maybe Delicious Donuts. I’m struggling with the thought process here. Did the Donut Commission have a meeting and tell its constituents, “Okay guys in order to keep a level playing field, when you open a shop, you are required to call it DONUTS; this way customers won’t know the difference between your place and the one down the street”. Sure we have a couple of Dunkin Donuts, a few Krispy Kremes and a smattering of donut places with unique names. However it’s obvious these rogues didn’t get the memo.
Not only do they all go by the same name, once you walk in the front door, you can expect the same experience. The interior is painted white or off-white and there are a few cheap tables and chairs, in case the customer chooses to “dine-in”. Towards the back there’s a small donut display case with some glazed, chocolate covered and maybe a few cinnamon rolls, you know the standard donut shop offering. Most of them throw a coffee station in there complete with styrofoam cups and if you are lucky they’ll provide cream, sugar and sweet & low. Oh and it’s not a bank of coffee pots. It’s one, usually close to empty, emitting the tantalizing aroma of coffee that’s past its expiration time. If they were going for the cheap, low cost, no ambiance positioning they nailed it.
It’s funny, I’m not even a big donut guy. I keep going into these places thinking one will be different. Or, I’m thinking, maybe someone will share some insight on why they are all the same. I’m determined to keep searching for the answers. Somebody has got to have a clue.
Before I close, I have a final question for my fellow Dallasites… Where are the bakeries? You know the ones that serve bagels, hard rolls, crumb cake, baklava, cannolis, eclairs, etc.? They have names like Carlo’s Bake Shop, Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, Miller’s Bakery (since 1947) and Palermo’s to name a few. These are places where, the moment you walk in, your mouth begins to water. The aroma and atmosphere overwhelms the senses which causes you to buy twice as much as you should.
Dallas has everything! It’s true much of it is bigger and better than elsewhere. If there’s a bakery that will make me say WOW, I would love to know about it! Please provide Sherlock with a clue!