Simon Underwood has no doubt: doughnuts are recession-proof.

While other Edmonton entrepreneurs may be struggling during the downturn, he's expanding his deep-fried dynasty.

"People still want to eat good food, whether the economy is good or the economy is bad," Underwood said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 

"People want to have choice in what they get, and that will continue whether there is a boom or there is a bust. I think people's expectations are higher now." 

Taking a risk

Five years since they started to sell their hand-dipped delicacies at farmers markets under the Moonshine Doughnuts banner, Underwood and his business partner, Matthew Garrett, are opening their first brick and mortar operation. They've named it Doughnut Party.

They're subleasing their new space from Duchess Provisions, and share their kitchen with the acclaimed French bakery.

Most of the funding for the new store, at 10938-119 Street inside Holland Plaza, came from their farmer's market sales, Underwood said.

Though any new business venture comes with a risk of failure, Underwood said he was confident their customers were hungry for more.

"If we stopped to think about it, it probably would have been intimidating. But having been at the farmer's markets and having that kind of face-to-face relationship with our customers gave us that confidence," Underwood said.

"It may seem risky to others, but for us, this was very low risk." 

'Word travels fast'

Doughnut Party will offer tea, coffee and new deep-fried creations in flavours like cookie crumble, lemon, ginger, birthday cake and winterberry prosecco.  

While they will continue to make the rounds at farmers markets with their tried and true vegan doughnuts, they plan to experiment with some not necessarily vegan-friendly options at the new store. 

They had their soft opening on Jan. 30th and had hoped to keep their presence in the neighbourhood quiet for a few weeks until they got their bearings, Underwood said. 

But apparently, a good secret is hard to keep. They've sold out within hours almost every day since. 

"We're really lucky. We've had a great response, with lots of people," Underwood said.

"We really wanted to have a soft opening because it's a new product for us … but I guess word travels fast, so we're doing our best to keep up."


With files from Tanara Mclean