Carlie Boggs, Ball State junior computer information systems major, came across an advertisement on Facebook in January for a new doughnut shop opening in Yorktown, Indiana. When Boggs visited the shop to try its doughnuts, she said she was mesmerized by the food she had just bought.
Boggs told Brad Daughtery, her boss at Hoola Managed IT where she interns, about the doughnuts, and he asked her to bring some in for him to try.
“[He said], ‘This is the best doughnut I’ve ever had in my life,’” Boggs said. “[I said], ‘You know what would be so cool, is if we got a doughnut made for Hoola.’”
The local doughnut shop obliged to Bogg’s request and baked a doughnut topped with orange icing and blue sprinkles, Hoola Managed IT’s company colors, as well as a shell-shaped candy. Hoola Managed IT would use this doughnut in marketing campaigns to spread the word not just about its company, but also about a small doughnut shop named Purdylicious Sweet Shoppe.
Owners Jeff and Kerri Purdy opened Purdylicious Sweet Shoppe in January. When Purdylicious first opened, Kerri Purdy said they were flooded with positive reception from the community.
“We had quite a few people that we had to turn away because there was not enough room for them to get in the building,” Kerri Purdy said.
Five years before opening their doughnut shop, Jeff and Kerri Purdy sold kettle corn as a way for Jeff to revive an old tradition from his childhood. Every Labor Day, Jeff Purdy and his family would make kettle corn in a large cast-iron cauldron for family reunions on their 80-acre farm in Huntington, Indiana.
Coming back from a 20-year hiatus, Jeff Purdy and his wife gathered their friends to share the kettle corn he had made.
“A buddy said, ‘Hey, this is fantastic. You should start a business doing this,’” Jeff Purdy said. “Next thing you know, we’re doing festivals.”
The Purdys sold their kettle corn at festivals all over Indiana from their Purdylicious food trucks. Along with popcorn, the Purdys sold their homemade lemon shake-ups, shaved ice and elephant ears.
Because festivals would often be oversaturated with one food item, the Purdys said they were not able to sell their elephant ears at every event they worked, as was the case at the 2021 Farmers Pike Festival in New Castle, Indiana.
“You go to an event [where] everybody's selling the same thing — which one do you choose? We couldn't sell our elephant ears, so we decided to sell the doughnuts,” Jeff Purdy said. “We probably convinced 60 percent of the people that asked for an elephant ear to buy cinnamon and sugar doughnuts.”
Although the Purdys typically didn’t have to rely on their backup plan of selling doughnuts when they were out of elephant ears while on the road, Jeff Purdy said, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to get creative.
“We did not really do anything when the pandemic first started because everything was shut down,” Kerri Purdy said. “With no group gatherings, there's no mobile [operation], so there's no business. Without an income, you have to make one.”
Because most of their scheduled events were canceled at the start of the pandemic, the Purdys decided it was time to give the brick-and-mortar model a try.
“When we were planning on what to do, we decided, ‘OK, we've kind of built a reputation for elephant ears the last few years,’” Jeff Purdy said. “‘What can we do [on a] day-to-day basis that resembles an elephant ear?’ [We] decided to come up with the doughnuts.”
Customers at Purdylicious Sweet Shoppe can choose between five different glazes and 12 different toppings to put on their doughnuts, allowing for a wide range of flavors to be combined. Along with doughnuts, Purdylicious also sells treats like ice cream, slushies and smoothies. The drink menu at Purdylicious Sweet Shoppe has coffee, lattes, boba tea and lemonade in a variety of flavors.
Kerri Purdy said she intended Purdylicious Sweet Shoppe’s environment to feel welcoming and comfortable to bring in customers. The shop features repurposed and re-upholstered chairs and a couch that came from her husband’s uncle’s house.
“[The couch] goes with our color scheme, so I thought it'd be perfect,” Kerri Purdy said. “I want it to feel comfortable … I don't want it to be a stuffy, uncomfortable place to sit and hang out.”
Amber Lindstrom, an employee at Purdylicious Sweet Shoppe, met the Purdys when they sold their food at flea markets she managed. She worked part-time with Jeff and Kerri Purdy before becoming a full-time employee.
“I know a lot of places make doughnuts fresh every day, but you don't get to choose the combination of things that you want on it,” Lindstrom said. “All times of the day, people buy doughnuts — it’s not just a morning thing.”
When COVID-19 restrictions began to be lifted and large gatherings were permitted again, the Purdys returned to their food trucks and went back to attending festivals — just as they did before the start of the pandemic.
Running a shop and a mobile operation has been difficult, Jeff Purdy said, as there are times when there are not enough employees, so the Purdys have to close the shop and go mobile. However, what keeps Jeff and Kerri Purdy going is knowing how important it is for them to sell their food at festivals.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world, though — it's just amazing,” Jeff Purdy said. “Meeting the other vendors, hearing their stories [and] learning based on other people's experiences ... you make lifelong friends.”
Contact Miguel Naranjo with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org