WEST FARGO - The pandemic took a bite out of Sandy’s Donuts’ business starting back in March 2020, but a pivot to delivering the doughy delights has kept the company going and has raised the prospects for expanding production capacity.
Owner Mark Ostlund confirmed that more production space is being considered as his overall business is ramping up with growing numbers of people returning to their workplaces.
“We’re trying to figure out how to get a little more space, and moving things around,” Ostlund said Thursday, April 1.
Sandy’s began its doughnut delivery outreach in earnest in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the area and businesses closed offices and had their people work from home.
“Our corporate sales went away. Nobody is having meetings. Then our wholesale thing went way down. The stores weren’t buying doughnuts,” Ostlund said. “So we started delivering to houses in Fargo. And that was pretty successful. I said if I can do that, why can’t I put that on Facebook?”
Before the pandemic, Sandy’s was making some deliveries to Jamestown, N.D.
But when the coronavirus put a crimp in cruller sales, Ostlund decided to try the Fergus Falls, Minn., market, putting out a Facebook call for orders on a Tuesday, with a plan to deliver that Friday.
The response filled him with joy.
It took five drivers to make 210 deliveries.
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Now, Sandy's delivers to towns sprinkled within a 100-mile radius, from Jamestown in the west to Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids and Rothsay to the east. They’ve even made a couple trips to Watertown and Aberdeen in S.D., though the three-hour trip to Aberdeen pushes the envelope for doughnut delivery, Ostlund said.
That means taking Bismarcks to Bismarck is not in the cards.
But for places like Oakes, LaMoure and Lisbon, N.D., which don’t have a local bakery or doughnut shop, the results have been sweet.
“It’s profitable for us. It keeps our sales up. We’re still not quite back to where we were before the pandemic started. It gets our name out there a little bit, too. It works out good for us,” Ostlund said.
“Have a Sandy’s Donuts in your town without having an official Sandy’s Donuts” shop, he said. “We’re going to keep doing it.”
Sandy’s was working on a mobile app before the pandemic hit, and it was ready within a month of the start of the initial economic shutdown.
It was perfect timing for pivoting to delivery.
But Sandy’s avoids going to towns with bakeries. Ostlund doesn't want to take a bite out of their business.
“I don’t want to step on their toes. I’m a small business, too, and I definitely don’t want to hurt a small business. We don’t want to do that. That’s not our goal. We try to be sensitive to that sort of thing," he said.
At one point, Sandy’s was making out-of-town deliveries four times a week. Now it’s down to two. But business is coming back, and May has traditionally been one of the best months for the Sandy’s chain, which operates a store in West Fargo's downtown, and shops in downtown Fargo and the Osgood Townsite Centre in southwest Fargo.
“It kind of worked out good for us. We were never closed and we were able to keep all of our employees and staff. We were able to keep things going. It was pretty nice,” Ostlund said. “We were able to stay open. We were fortunate.”